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;::>AJLi n 


• illiliiml! feimiiiiimn 





This Edition is intended for circulation only in India 
and the British Colonies 

flDacmiUaiVe Colonial Xibrar^ 




, ("i ^Cui 7 



No. 515 1906 

[All rights reserved] 

Printed by Bai.i.antynk, Hanson &♦ Co. 
At ilie IjuUantyiie Press 


I TAKE this opportunity of explaining that the 
title of these collected stories and sketches has 
not been chosen merely because it is that of the 
first in the list of contents — although if that 
were the only reason I might claim many dis- 
tinguished precedents in justification — but also 
because it seemed appropriate to the collection 

For the contents of this volume resemble 
salted almonds in that they are not provided 
as articles of nourishment, but rather to beguile 
the intervals between the courses of a substantial 

And, like salted almonds too, they should be 
indulged in with a certain discretion, since, if 
more than, let us say, two or three are taken 
at a time, they are extremely apt to prove 

But 1 am quite aware that even the choice of 
so unambitious a title as this is not without its 


danger. It affords an obvious opening to the 
caustic critic for a complaint that the description 
implies a flavour which, after conscientiously 
tasting the samples before him, he has entirely 
failed to detect. 

However, we must take our risks, and so I 
have decided to face this, trusting that to less 
fastidious palates these particular almonds may 
not seem altogether insipid. 


February 1906. 


Salted Almonds ; or, Playing the Game 

At a Moment's Notice . 

"As THE Twig is Bent . . ." &c. 

Caveat Emptor ! . . . 

Lunch among the Ruins 

Why I have given up writing Novels 

Going Round the Caves 

Mrs. Brassington-Claypott's Children's Party 

A Business Meeting of the Society of Pen- 
guins • 

The Gull . 

The Game of Adverbs 

A Bohemian Bag 

The Magic H's . 

After Rehearsal 

The Lights of Spencer Primmett's Eyes 

A "First Night" Supper 

The Adventure of the Snowing Globe 









Scene I. — At the Dinner-table. 

Situation — Mr. Plumley Duff, a middle-aged 
bachelor with a well-earned reputation for social 
tact and fluency combined luith extreme polish, 
has been sent in to dinner with Miss IMOGEN 
PUREFOY, an obvious ingenue. Her youthful 
charm, hotvever, has induced him to overlook 
any intellectual iftferiority, and, even on the 
stairs, he has so far unbent as to impart some 
highly valuable information concerning the 
state of the weather for the last few days, 
besides confiding the intelligence that the Par- 
liamentary Session is responsible for many 
more people being in Town than usual. Miss 
PUREFOY has received these utterances tvith 
a reverential assent which only confirms him 
in an impression originally favourable. 

Miss PurefOY {after declining fish — to Mr. 
P. D.). Aren't those salted almonds over there ? 


bloom" coloured satin. Now, I don't suppose 
/ pay 

[^He discourses here at some length on the 
precise sum per annum his evening 
clothes cost him, while Miss PUREFOY 
listens ivitJi rapt attention. 

Miss P. Really ! How interesting ! And I 
suppose there were all sorts of other expensive 
things they had to wear, besides ? 

Mr. D. (^pleased with her intelligence^. Why, 
if you merely take such indispensable items as 
a silver-hilted sword, a lace cravat, a snuff-box, 
shoe-buckles, and so forth, they would represent 
a serious outlay. Not to speak of Wigs, which 
frequently cost as much as thirty or forty 

Miss P. {as she absently pushes one of her 
salted almonds over the edge of the brocade " table- 
centre "). Not really ? How glad you must be 
that you can keep your money to spend on 
more sensible things ! Motor-cars, perhaps ? 
For I'm sure you go in for motoring ? 

Mr. D, {flattered, but a little disconcerted by this 
abmpt change of subject, as he was about to give 
her an instructive catalogue of the various wigs 
that characterised the eighteenth century). I 


confess I do not. Quite apart from all ques- 
tions of a pecuniary nature, I should decline 
to give any countenance to a form of convey- 
ance which, in my opinion, will soon render 
the horse as extinct an animal as the — er — 

Miss P. Ah, the poor horse ! But perhaps 
he won't mind being extinct so very much ! 
I mean, I've often thought it rather unfair 
that Jie should be chosen to draw us about, 
and not some other animal. 

Mr. D. {delighted by her ingenuousness). Nature 
has her injustices, I am afraid. Possibly her 
excuse in this case would be that no other 
quadruped is so well adapted for the — er — 
particular purpose. But you are mistaken in 
assuming that the horse alone has been so 

Miss P. Why, of course ! How idiotic of me ! 
I was forgetting the Donkey I 

Mr. D. Also the Dog, the Bullock, the Rein- 
deer, and — for heavy artillery, if for no other 
vehicle — the Indian Elephant. 

Miss P. {ivith sparklitig eyes). You make me 
feel so ignorant 1 Though of course I might 
have remembered thou. But I can't think of 


any other animal that is used in that way. And 
I don't beheve that even j^z^ can, either ! 

Mr. D. {in quiet triunipli). I think I can. 
Unless I am greatly misinformed, Zebras have 
been successfully trained to go in harness. 

Miss P. Zebras ! Isn't it wonderful ! {She 
deposits a second almond by the side of the first.) 
Is there anything you don't know, Mr. Duff ? 

Mr. D. I dare say I could tell you a few 
further facts about Zebras which may be new 
to you. 

Miss P. They're quite certain to be. You 
see, I've never learnt atiy facts. I've been so 
shockingly educated. Like all women ! 

Mr. D. [bowing with the courtly grace that he 
has found effective on former occasions). No 
woman can be badly educated when she has 
learnt to render herself an agreeable companion 
to Man. 

Miss P. {pouti?ig). Ah, I see what it is ! You 
despise women. {As Mr. Y)\}¥¥ protests gallantly.) 
Oh yes, you do ! You don't believe they can 
do anything as well as men can. You would 
prevent them even trying to — if you only 
could ! 

Mr. D. I would prefer to put it in this form. 


While I allow that your — er — charming sex is 
capable of attaining a certain proficiency — I will 
go even further, and say, excellence — in the Arts, 
I frankly own that I have far too high an admir- 
ation for Woman to endure to see her unsex 
herself by stepping into the arena to engage 
with Man in the sterner conflicts of what I may 
describe as the serious Business of Life. 

Miss P. But don't women make rather good 
clerks ? 

Mr. D. I will grant you that the superior 
suppleness of the feminine hand — {zv it h a glance 
at Miss Purefoy's, which is idly fingering a 
third almond) — may give a woman some small 
advantage in manipulating purely mechanical 
instruments like — well — Typewriters — but, Great 
Heavens ! is such slavery as that a fitting career 
for — {He enlarges on this theme with real eloquence, 
until he is brought up short by the discovery that 
her mind is elsewhere, and that she is frivolously 
attracting the notice of somebody tvhom he cannot 
see across the table to three salted almonds, with 
which she has amused herself by placing side by 
side). I fear I have failed to retain your entire 
attention ! 

Miss P. How can you think so ! Why, I've 


been most awfully interested ! You don't know 
how much you have helped me ! You've said 
exactly what I wished you to say ! But you 
must tell me the rest another time. Because, 
do you know, your other neighbour has been 
trying to get a word from you for ever so long 
— so I'm afraid I must be unselfish and give 
you up to her. 

\She turns to the man on her right y who 

monopolises her during the remaining 


Mr. D. {later, seizing his chance just before 
their hostess gives the signal). I observe, Miss 
Purefoy, that, notwithstanding your — er — 
professed adoration for salted almonds, you 
are leaving the few you took absolutely un- 

Miss P. You are too frightfully observant, 
Mr. Duff ! I see I had better confess at once 
that I didn't take them to eat — only to play 

Mr. D. [to himself, as the ladies rise). Rather 
an attractive child — but immature at present. 
A mind that merely requires forming, though. 


Scene H. — In the Drawing-room. 

Situation — The men have come upstairs; Mr. 
Plumley Duff, who was hoping for a 
further opportunity of sounding the depths of 
Miss Purefoy'S engaging ignorance, finds 
himself intei'cepted by his hostess, and pre- 
sented to another young lady — a Miss Peggy 

Mr. Duff [with heroic affability). The — er — 
gaieties of the Season are beginning early this 
year. I dare say you are already up to your 
eyes, Miss — er — Blount, in what one may per- 
haps be permitted to term the Social Whirlpool 
— dances, dinners, and so forth — h'm ? 

Miss Blount. Oh, I don't know. Not any 
dances, so far. Another dinner-party though, 
only next week — {with a little grimace) — worse 
luck ! Don't tell anybody — but I simply loathe 
dinners ! 

Mr. D. At your age, my dear young lady, one 
has not yet commenced to dine. But I infer 
from your tone that you have not been entirely 
fortunate in your partner this evening. Or am 
I mistaken ? 

Miss B. Well, he might have been worse. I 


wish he had been. Then I should have had a 
chance of winning. 

Mr. D. a chance of ? Pardon me, but I 

don't quite understand. 

Miss B. How could you, when you don't 
know ! But I'll tell you, if you'll promise 
faithfully not to give me away. (Mr. Duff 
promises^ Well, a girl-friend and I have in- 
vented a game for getting through dull dinner- 
parties without being bored. We each try to 
get the man who takes us in to mention certain 
things, and the one who does it first wins. Now 
do you see ? 

Mr. D. {amused). Perfectly. And I must 
congratulate you on a most ingenious device 
for avoiding boredom. 

Miss B. hrit it ? But this evening Miss 
Purefoy (my friend's name, you know) won in 
a perfect canter. By two salted almonds ! 

Mr. D. By two ? 

Miss B. We use them to score with, you 
know. That is, when there are any. There 
generally are — but bread pills will do instead. 
And, as soon as each of the three things is 
mentioned, one of us puts an almond where it 
can catch the other's eye. 


Mr. D. And is it allowable to ask what those 
three things were, on this particular occasion ? 

Miss B. Let me see. The first was "Wigs," 
the second "Zebras," and — what was the third ? 
Oh, /know, "Typewriters." And just imagine ! 
Miss Purefoy managed to make her partner 
mention all three before dinner was half over. 
It's a record ! 

Mr. D. {acidly). Miss Purefoy must be a 
young lady of quite exceptional ability. 

Miss B. She did awfully well at Newnham 
in the History Tripos. Still, I expect whoever 
took her in this evening must have been — well, 
rather a duffer. I couldn't see who it was, 
because of the flowers between us. I wonder 
\{ you noticed, and could point him out to me ? 

Mr. D. {stiffly). I'm afraid it is not in my 
power to oblige you. 

\He takes his leave as soon as he can, 
without making any further attejnpts 
to stimulate the intelligence of Miss 
Imogen Purefoy. 



Nothing could have been more unexpected. 
If any fellow had met me as I was leaving 
my rooms, and told me what sort of day I was 
in for, my reply to him would have been 
" Liar ! " But he'd have been right all the 

I was due to lunch with Monty Blundell at 
his Club, and started to walk, but when I got 
into Piccadilly I found I was beastly late. It's 
funny, but, though I haven't anything in par- 
ticular to do, I generally am beastly late for 
most things. So of course I had to call a 
hansom. It struck me, as I told the Johnny 
across the roof to drive like the very deuce 
to the Junior Beaufort Club, that he was a 
trifle glassy in the eye and white about the 
gills, and he was driving a chestnut that 
seemed to have got a bit out of hand. But 


I was in a hurry, and we were off at a canter 
before I had time to do more than tumble in 
anyhow and hope for the best. The canter 
quickened up into a gallop very soon, and, at 
the top of St. James's Street, the gallop be- 
came an unmistakable bolt. I saw the cabbies 
on the stand running to their horses' nose- 
bags, and everybody skipping out of our road, 
and I sat as tight as I knew and prepared for 
trouble. The gate of St. James's Palace was 
open, and I rather expected to find myself 
put down there, where of course they weren't 
expecting me — but the cabman managed to 
slew round somehow into Pall Mall. There 
was a piano-organ just ahead with a monkey 
on top, and I made sure we should bowl over 
the entire show in another second. But there 
had been some rain, and the going was greasy, 
so, just before we overtook it, there was a 
slither, a tremendous crash, followed by fire- 
works * * * * and the next thing I knew 
I was standing looking on from a distance, 
feeling rather muzzy, but otherwise quite all 

The usual crowd had sprung up, as if through 
star-traps in the road. They got the chestnut 


on his legs, looking as if he was beginning to 
suspect he had made a fool of himself ; the 
driver, too, appeared to be none the worse, 
and was being questioned by a constable, who 
did not seem to show him all the sympathy 
he expected. 

I was rather puzzled, though, when I saw 
them lifting a young fellow up and carrying 
him off to the nearest chemist's. He was evi- 
dently the fare, and, up to then, I had been 
under the impression that it was my accident. 
I saw now it couldn't have been, since there 
I was, looking on. But, from a glimpse I 
caught of him in passing, I had an idea I'd 
met him somewhere or other, and I wondered 
whether I oughtn't to go and see if there was 
anything I could do for him. I knew the 
chemist very well, having often looked in there 
for a pick-me-up. 

Still, if I did, I should be later than ever 
for that appointment — whatever it was, for I 
couldn't recollect it for the moment. Besides, 
now I came to think, I couldn't really have 
recognised him, he was much too muddy ; it 
was only his overcoat, which happened to be 
of much the same pattern as the one I had 


on. I glanced at my coat-sleeve to make sure 
of this — and then I made a perfectly fearful 
discovery. It wasn't so much that I wasn't 
wearing any overcoat, because it was a mild 
spring morning, and I'd hesitated for some 
time whether I hadn't better leave it at home. 
It was the suit I was in. I take a lot of pains 
over choosing my clothes, and I think I'm 
entitled to call myself a well-turned-out man. 
So it was a most awful shock to find that I had 
come out — in Pall Mall too — in a lounge suit 
of red and blue plaid, with black braid round 
the cuffs ! I couldn't think what had induced 
me to order such things — or, for that matter, 
my tailor to make them. / should have ex- 
pected he'd sooner have died. 

While I was wondering, a tambourine was 
suddenly shoved under my nose. I never 
encourage street music at any time, and I was 
certainly not in the humour for it just then, 
so I pushed the tambourine away — not over 
civilly, I dare say — and it fell into the gutter. 
On this the person with the tambourine caught 
me a downright nasty clip on the side of my 

I was just hesitating whether to call a con- 


stable and give the bounder in charge, or risk 
a row by knocking him down — he seemed rather 
below my height — when I happened to notice 
what queer gloves I'd got on instead of my 
ordinary white buckskins. I do occasionally 
wear grey reindeer — but these were so beastly 

Feeling more upset than ever, I put my hand 
to my head, and found I was wearing, very 
much on one side, a small round cap fastened 
under the chin by elastic. This I took off and 
examined closely ; it had no hatter's name 
printed inside, and seemed to be of some regi- 
mental pattern, perhaps the latest War Office 
improvement. Now, except that I did once 
join a Volunteer corps for a short time (and 
might have stuck it, if they'd only let me take 
my poodle into camp with me), I never was 
what you might call a military man, and even 
if I had been I shouldn't parade Pall Mall in 
an undress cavalry cap. It was so utterly unlike 
me 1 

And then I suddenly remembered my engage- 
ment — and the thought of it made me feel prickly 
all over. 

I was lunching with Monty Blundell at the 


Junior Beaufort Club, where he had promised 
to put me up for election — and I'd actually, 
for some reason or other which was beyond 
me, proposed to go there like this ! 

For all I knew, Monty might have asked 
some influential fellows on the Committee to 
meet me — and what on earth would they think 
of a candidate who was capable of turning up 
on such an occasion in dittoes of some beastly 
loud tartan ? I should be pilled to a dead 
certainty ! It wasn't fair on old Monty either, 
who's even more particular, if possible, about 
clothes than I am. Altogether the best thing 
to do was to slip quietly back to my rooms 
while I could, and pretend afterwards that the 
engagement had slipped my memory. 

I'd have done it, too — but unfortunately it 
was just too late. I'd been moving slowly 
along Pall Mall all this while without noticing, 
and when I looked up, there was I, right under 
the Club windows, and there was Monty, evi- 
dently on the look-out for me ! I caught his 
eye, and I thought I saw him nod cheerily in 
return. After all, if he didn't see anything to 
object to in my get-up, why should I? So 
long as a fellow looks a gentleman and all that. 


he can carry off the rummest sort of clothes. 
I'd forgotten that for the moment. 

Anyhow, I couldn't get out of it now. So 
I waved to him in an airy kind of manner, as 
much as to say : " Got here at last, my dear 
old chap. Awfully sorry I'm so late. Explain 
everything when I get in." Though how the 
deuce I was going to explain, I'd no idea. And 
I admit I rather funked passing the hall-porter 
and the page-boys — not to mention the Club 
waiters in their black velvet knee-breeches and 
silk stockings. 

However, Blundell didn't answer my signal ; 
he simply stared at me as if he'd never seen me 
before in all his life, and then turned away. 
There couldn't be a neater cut. And really, 
now I come to think of it, I couldn't blame 
him. It is enough to put the best-tempered 
chap off when he asks a fellow to lunch at 
his Club (and an exclusive Club too, mind you 
— not a pot-house !) and a fellow actually drives 
up to the door on top of a piano-organ ! 

For that was where I luas — though somehow 
I hadn't given it a thought before. That ex- 
plained why I felt taller than usual, and — just 
here my conveyance gave a lurch, and, as I 


steadied myself, I caught a glimpse between 
my legs of something long and greyish and 
hairy, like a lady's boa which had seen better 
days — and it flashed upon me suddenly that 
there could be only one explanation of my 
situation. . . . 

I dare say I ought to have realised it long 
before, but when a fellow has just been shot 
out of a hansom like a clay pigeon out of a 
trap, it's generally some time before he's able 
to make out exactly where he is. 

Now I understood. That young fellow I had 
seen being carried off to the chemist's round 
the corner was myself after all. But he was 
far beyond the aid of any pick-me-up. The 
vital principle, or intelligence, or whatever you 
choose to call it, which had inhabited the body 
of Reginald Ballimore, had already quitted it, 
and was now occupying this little beast of a 
monkey. Perhaps there was nowhere else for 
it to go to just then — and I remember noticing 
at the time that the monkey's mouth was ajar — 
perhaps it was even betting on the cab-horse. I 
don't know, and I must leave it to the scientific 
Johnnies to explain exactly how it happened. It 
had happened — and that was enough for me. 


And really, you know, to come in at one 
end of Pall Mall in a hansom cab as a well- 
groomed young bachelor, and to come out at 
the other as a shockingly-dressed monkey on 
a piano-organ, is one of those blows which 
would knock most men out of their stride, for 
a time at all events. 


As I said before, it must naturally be a nasty jar 
for any fellow to find himself suddenly reduced, 
through no fault of his own, to the position of a 
monkey on a piano-organ. And I don't mind 
admitting that, for a moment or two, I was what 
you might call in the cart. After that, oddly 
enough, I began to see that in some ways it was 
almost a relief. For one thing, I didn't feel 
nearly such a fool. 

You see, for a man who prides himself on 
dressing correctly, it's impossible to feel at 
ease in Pall Mall with nothing on but a plaid 
tunic fastened up the back with mother-o'-pearl 
buttons, and a frill round the neck. But, for 
a monkey, it's quite correct kit — if it isn't 
actually classy. And I hadn't got to lunch at 


the Junior Beaufort in it either, which was a 

Another thing : without being what you would 
call extravagant, I never have been able to live 
within my income. Consequently my affairs 
had got into a regular beastly mess. I was 
simply up to my neck in money worries of all 
kinds. Well, I was out of them all now. No- 
body would dream of serving me with a writ. 

Again, I'd every reason to suppose that the 
Reggie Ballimore of old must have pegged out 
— or else I shouldn't be where I was. But I was 
alive at all events — and that's something. Isn't 
there a proverb about a live monkey being better 
than a dead policeman ? So altogether I bucked 
up sooner than might have been expected. 

I didn't attempt to leave the organ. To tell 
you the truth, it wouldn't have been any good, 
as I was attached to the confounded instrument 
by a stoutish cord and a leather belt round my 

Nor yet, though, as we passed down Pall Mall, 
I met several men I knew, did I hail them and 
explain the fix I was in. What was the use ? 
The right words wouldn't come : 1 didn't under- 
stand what I said myself, so how could 1 expect 


any one else to ? Besides, I'd a sort of feeling 
that it wouldn't be quite Cricket. I know / 
shouldn't have cared to be appealed to as an 
old pal by a monkey on an organ. 

No, since that was what I had come down to, 
it seemed to me that the manly thing to do was 
to grin and bear it — to play the monkey, in short, 
for all it was worth. People were always telling 
me I ought to make a fresh start, and do some- 
thing for my living. Now perhaps they would 
be satisfied ! 

There was just one thing, though, that caused 
me a pang when I remembered it. This change 
in my mode of life would prevent me from 
dining at my Aunt Selina's that evening. She 
didn't often ask me, and when she did I seldom 
went — for her parties are, as a rule, devilish dull. 
But somehow I had been rather looking forward 
to this particular dinner. My cousin Phyllis 
would be there now — which made all the differ- 
ence. She only came out last year, and, so I 
understand, with considerable success. I know 
1 saw her described as "the lovely Miss Adeane " 
in the Society journals, and as being present at 
every smart party of the season. I only met her 
very occasionally, but she seemed to me no end 


improved since I remembered her in a pigtail 
— in fact, she'd grown into an absolute ripper — 
though perhaps a little bit above herself, inclined 
to be airified, if you know what I mean. 

She hadn't taken much notice of me, so far — 
seemed indeed to consider I had become rather 
a piffler. But I'd been hoping that I might sit 
next to her, perhaps even take her in to dinner 
that evening. Then I could let her see that 
there was a more serious side to my character 
than I chose to show the world. Of course, 
all that was out of the question now. 

No matter ! I might have been a failure as 
a man — but, hang it all ! with my education and 
intelligence, any monkey ought to have a fine 
career before it ! Pall Mall — as the couple of 
idiots with my piano-organ might have known — 
is a most unsuitable place for a street perform- 
ance, but, as soon as we were permitted to halt 
without being moved on, I was determined to 
show the public that I was a cut above the 
ordinary professional. 

I should have preferred Trafalgar Square as 
a pitch, but my two ruffians took me up a 
small lane near the National Gallery and across 
Coventry Street into Soho, and I didn't get a 


chance of displaying my abilities till we stopped 
in a slum off Wardour Street. 

My idea was to surprise the audience by giving 
them a cake-walk, in which I hoped to make 
some sensation. But it didn't come off, some- 
how. It wasn't nervousness exactly — that would 
have been ridiculous when they were all so 
young. I fancy the cord hampered me, and my 
tail kept getting in the way, too — and then the 
tunes I was expected to dance to ! I've noticed 
that a monkey generally has rather poor luck in 
the music he's sent out with, and I'll defy any 
one to cake-walk to ^^ Jerusalem" or ^^ Killarney" 
and put any kind of " go " into it. 

So I gave it up, and just jumped about any- 
how, accompanying myself on the tambourine. 
But the bally tambourine had two of the 
jingling thingummies missing and ivouldnt keep 
time. I don't believe I got much more music 
out of it than an ordinary monkey would have, 
I really don't. 

However, my chance came presently. One of 
the organ Johnnies handed me up a little wooden 
musket. " What-oh ! " I said to myself. " Now 
I'll open their eyes!" For of course you can't 
be in a Volunteer corps, even for a short time. 


without knowing more about the manual exercise 
than your average monkey. 

I had got rustier in the drill than I thought, 
and besides it was a rotten little rifle to handle 
when you're so long in the arms, and haven't 
learnt to control them completely. Still, it was 
a fairly creditable performance, and improved 
with practice, though quite thrown away on 
such audiences as I had. 

Not that 1 was a failure — don't imagine that 
for a moment. I should think I took at least 
thirteen halfpence in the first ten minutes — more 
than I had ever earned before in all my life ! 
But it went rather against the grain to take the 
money — especially from some poor little beggar 
who obviously belonged to quite the lower 
orders. I should like to have said, " Don't 
you be a young ass — run away and spend your 
halfpenny on sweets instead of squandering it 
on these lazy bounders ! " But whenever I did 
reject a copper I got a tug at the belt that nearly 
cut me in two. 

I should say we gave a matinee that afternoon 
in every street in Soho. I was getting quite 
knocked up, for I had had no lunch. At least 
I don't call half a cracknel biscuit and the 


over-ripe end of a banana " lunch " myself. 
Monty would have done me to rights at the 
Junior Beaufort. 

We stopped at last outside a small public 
just off Oxford Street, and my men went inside 
for refreshment. They might have thought of 
sending me out a whisky-and-soda — but not 
they! So I sat on the top of the piano in 
the sunshine, keeping a wary eye on my tail, 
which some of the little brutes of children 
thought it funny to pull. 

When we moved off again in the direction of 
the Marble Arch, I felt more cheerful. Thank 
Heaven ! we had got back into a civilised region 
again. There would be people there capable 
of appreciating real talent when they saw it. 
Suppose — only suppose — some music - hall 
manager happened to be in the crowd and 
offered me an engagement ? Why not ? I 
ought to be able to wear evening" clothes, order 
a little dinner, and smoke a cigar on the stage 
better than a common Chimpanzee who'd never 
done the real thing in any kind of society ! 

Great Scot ! I might be earning my hundred 
quid a week before long — which I should never 
have done as Reggie Ballimore. And I'd always 


had a hankering after the stage, and should have 
gone on it long before, if it didn't cut into one's 
evenings so. 

I was still indulging these golden dreams when 
I was brought up with a round turn. . . . There 
was a victoria standing outside a glove and fan 
shop we were coming to, and on the box I 
recognised Tumbridge, my aunt's coachman. 
And in the carriage, as I saw when our respec- 
tive vehicles were alongside, sat my cousin 
Phyllis, looking simply ripping ! Upon my 
word, I didn't quite know wJiat to do. I 
knew she must have seen me, for she smiled 
in that perfectly fetching way she has. My 
hand flew to my hat instinctively, but the 
infernal elastic made it fly back and catch me 
on the ear. Then, recollecting myself, I gave 
what I am afraid was a rather sketchy rendering 
of a military salute, and at that same instant 
my aunt came out of the fan and glove shop, 
followed by an assistant with parcels. I felt 
most beastly awkward — I all but lost my head — 
and wished more than ever that the frill round 
my neck had been a trifle cleaner. 

But something had to be done, and, as luck 
would have it, I was still carrying the little 


wooden musket. So, as my aunt was about 
to step into the carriage, I presented arms. 

It was a jolly decent " present," too — though 
I say it myself ! 


" O Mums ! " cried my cousin Phyllis, with 
that impulsive enthusiasm of hers which some 
people — not myself — say is all put on, "do 
look at this sweet little monkey on the organ ! 
Isnt he deevie ? " 

"Deevie" is, I believe, short for "divine" 
with certain sets. I wouldn't mind betting that 
Phyllis had never applied such a term to me 

My aunt didn't seem impressed by my deevi- 
ness just then. She examined me through a 
pair of long-handled glasses, which always had 
the effect of making me feel rather a worm. 
On this occasion I dropped feebly on all fours. 

"Since you ask me, Phyllis," said my aunt, 
" I think he's a frightful little object ! " Which 
was my poor dear aunt all over — never could 
make the slightest allowances for me ! 

"/ call him perfectly twee !" persisted Phyllis. 


(I don't know what " twee " stands for exactly — 
but something deuced comphmentary.) " Only 
see how prettily he's scratching his ducky little 
ear." (This was a bad habit I had been trying 
all the afternoon to correct). " He's quite too 
trotty for words. I wonder if those two nice 
men would part with him ? " 

" My dear Phyllis ! " exclaimed my aunt, step- 
ping into the victoria. " Are you quite mad ? 
Home, Charles." 

"No, wait, Charles," said Phyllis, as he was 
about to touch his hat and mount the box by 
Tumbridge's side. " Darling Mums, I'm quite 
serious — I am, really. And you know we've no 
pet ever since poor Cockie died." {Cockle was a 
white cockatoo, and I could understand from 
what I remembered of him that they would be 
glad of a little peace.) " I nmst just see if they 
will sell him." 

Even as a child Phyllis generally got her 
own way. Now she had come out, everybody 
— my aunt included — knocked under to her at 
once if she was at all keen on anything. It 
saved time. 

Phyllis opened negotiations at once. Fortu- 
nately she had no difiiculty in making herself 


understood, as the two sportsmen who ran my 
show happened to be British artisans of sorts 
who, being presumably thrown out of employ- 
ment by foreign competition, had adopted this 
means of Retaliation. 

But as a crowd had already collected, a con- 
stable promptly appeared, and, with a civility 
paid rather to my aunt's conveyance than my 
own, requested us to move on and not obstruct 
the traffic. 

Aunt Selina would have driven off and left 
me to my fate, but Phyllis wouldn't hear of it, 
so the disgusted Tumbridge had to turn up a 
small and unfrequented street close by, fol- 
lowed by me and the piano-organ, and the 
crowd, which by this time was taking a deep 
interest in my future. 

Phyllis is a most awfully charming girl, but 
a poor hand at monkey - buying — much too 
eager. Even those two utter outsiders spotted 
at once that she had set her heart on getting 
me, and piled it on accordingly. I'd no idea 
before how fond they were of me — it appeared 
I was the sunbeam of their cheerless homes, 
the darling of Joe's missus, the playfellow of 
Bill's offspring. 


"Really, Phyllis," said my downy aunt, "I 
think it would be too cruel to deprive the poor 
men of such a pet." 

I knew the idiots would muff it ! and, in my 
despair, I hit my tambourine a vicious bang. 

"Yer see, lydy," explained Bill, "my kids and 
his missus 'd be on'y too thankful to 'ear as poor 
Jocko 'ad found a good 'ome where he'd be took 
proper care on. For, I tell yer strife, we can't 
feed 'im not like the likes of 'im had orter be 
fed, bein' so dellikit." 

"My mate means a de\\'\kit feeder," put in Joe 
hastily, "and, bein' outer work, we can't git 
him luxuries and rehshes like we did in 'appier 

It's my belief that precious pair of humbugs 
had never seen me till that morning, when they 
had probably hired me for the day with the 
organ in Leather Lane or Saffron Hill. All 
this took time, and I could see that Aunt Selina 
was getting a bit restive ; even Phyllis seemed 
to find the publicity and notice she was attrac- 
ting rather more than she had bargained for. 

It isn't every day a London crowd has the 
excitement of seeing a sumptuously -attired 
young person in a victoria trying to buy a 


monkey at a fancy figure off an organ, so 
she was immensely popular. Several of her 
admirers urged my proprietors to " let the 
young lydy 'ave the monkey cheap as she'd 
took sech a fancy for it," though there were 
one or two soured sociahsts who cried 
" Shame ! " on the idle aristocracy which was 
trying to deprive two poor hard-working men 
of their only bread-winner. 

As for me, I was powerless. I could only 
sit and look on from the top of my pedestal 
like some classical Johnny in a melodrama 
being put up to auction as a Greek slave. 
Except that whenever I thought Phyllis was 
beginning to weaken, I tried to revive her 
enthusiasm by rattling the tambourine. 

Perhaps that just turned the scale. Anyhow, 
she got me at last. What she actually paid 
for me I don't know — but I've no doubt it 
was a long way above the market value for a 
monkey, of whatever breed I belonged to. To 
be sure, I had talents and intelligence denied 
to any monkey — but then neither of the parties 
suspected that as yet. 

There wasn't enough in the purse which 
Phyllis took out of her dainty wrist-bag to 


make up the purchase - money. She was 
obhged to borrow from my aunt, and even 
from the blushing Charles, before my ransom 
was finally paid in full. 

My aunt declined to have me on the little 
strapontin seat in front. As a matter of fact 
I had been there before, more than once — and 
a jolly uncomfortable perch it was, too. Still, 
I'm bound to say I didn't altogether blame her 
just then. 

So, when we drove off amidst loud cheers, 
which I do not think were intended altogether 
in chaff, I was on the box, sitting bodkin 
between Charles and Tumhridge, who were 
distinctly shirty at having to drive home 
through the Park with such a companion. 

At least so I gathered from the subdued 
remarks they exchanged above my inoffen- 
sive head. Till then I had always thought 
Tumbridge and Charles such respectable 
men ! 

Much I cared for their opinions ! I had got 
a rise in the world already, and in a quarter 
I little expected. I wonder what they would 
have said if they had known who the quiet, 
unassuming-looking monkey that was sharing 


the box-seat with them really was, or guessed 
that if I blinked my eyes it was merely because 
I was dazzled by the brilliancy of the future 
that seemed within my grasp. 

Naturally they couldn't know all that — and 
perhaps it was just as well they didn't. 


As we bowled swiftly along past Hyde Park 
Corner, Albert Gate, and the Cavalry Barracks, 
my brain was working busily on the problem 
of how to carry out my idea of going on the 
Variety Stage and knocking spots out of the 
ignorant apes which were being palmed off on 
a credulous Public as *' educated." 

Now I really was educated, having been at 
a well-known Public School — at tzvo of them, 
for that matter ! And if an ordinary baboon 
can earn the screw of a Cabinet Minister or a 
Judge by simply appearing on the stage for a 
few minutes, and giving a clumsy imitation of 
some outsider's notion of a man-about-town, 
what mightn't / expect ? 

Without being a positive Paderewski, I could 
pick out several tunes by ear on the piano ; I 


could play billiards, and bridge, too — I won't 
say well, but marvellously for a monkey ! 

The only rock ahead I saw was Phyllis. She 
mightn't like the notion of any monkey of hers 
performing nightly at the Palace or the Empire. 
She might consider it would deprive her of 
most of the advantage of my society. I de- 
cided not to spring the idea on her all at once, 
but accustom her to it by degrees. 

First of all, she would naturally notice a sort 
of distinction about me ; she would realise that 
I possessed a tact and savoir /aire, an ease of 
manner which no piano -organ can impart. 
Then, when she had learnt to respect me, I 
could reveal my accomplishments gradually, 
one by one, and she would have to admit that 
such talents as mine ought not to be wasted 
in obscurity — they belonged not to her, but to 
the whole World ! 

It was a bit of a bunker that, as yet, I could 
not talk intelligibly — but I was sure to hit upon 
some method of conveying my ideas before 
long — and then I could inform Phyllis that I 
had quite made up my mind to go on the 

She was too sensible to stand in my way — 


especially if I offered her a commission on my 
salary — say ten per cent,, which, even if I was 
making no more than two hundred a week, 
would be a welcome addition to her pocket- 

Should I ever reveal to her the secret of my 
identity ? It would be a temptation some day 
to let her know that the brilliant and wealthy 
monkey who was the darling of Society and 
the idol of the Public had once been her rather 
shiftless and unsatisfactory cousin Reginald. 
Still, perhaps it was better she should never 
suspect the truth. It would put the family in 
a deuced awkward position. No, Reggie Balli- 
more was better dead. I would use his dead 
self, as some poet-Johnny (Milton, isn't it ? or 
Shakespeare?) puts it, "as a stepladder to 
something higher." 

By the time I had come to this decision, the 
carriage stopped at my aunt's house in Cadogan 
Gardens — and 1 shall never forget Macrow the 
butler's face as Charles handed me to him by 
the scruff of my neck. 

'' It is Miss Phyllis's monkey, Macrow," ex- 
plained my aunt, with an anxiety to disown all 
responsibility for me that was not flattering. 


"And, Phyllis, dearest, if you insist on having 
it in the drawing-room, hadn't you better ?" 

I failed to catch the rest, but Phyllis replied, 
" Well, perhaps it might be as well. Macrow, 
will you take him to Friswell, please, and ask 
her to — to wash him for me and send him into 
the drawing-room ? " 

Friswell, I fancy, was not altogether chummy 
with Macrow just then ; at all events she told 
him it was " no part of her work to bath a little 
beast of a monkey," and recommended him 
strongly to do it himself. 

But he turned me over to the under scullery- 
maid instead — and even she was sniffy about it. 

To be held under a tap in a sink, soused 
with cold water, and scrubbed with beastly 
yellow soap and a most infernal hard brush, 
is not exactly the kind of treatment I was ac- 
customed to, even under my aimt's roof — but 
I showed no resentment. I thought I probably 
required it. 

It was over at last, and in a condition of 
almost offensive cleanliness [I loathe the smell 
of yellow soap myself — so depressing !] I was 
carried upstairs and deposited outside the draw- 
ing-room door, which Macrow opened for me. 


My little plaid tunic had been burnt, so I 
had absolutely nothing on but the leather belt. 
One can't get rid of one's prejudices all at 
once, and though I knew that even this costume 
wouldn't be considered at all outre \n my present 
case, I did feel just a little bit shy about going 
in. After all, though, I was one of the family, 
and I resolved to saunter in unconcernedly, as 
a person who had a right to feel at home. 

Whether Nature was too strong for me, or 
whether I got a gentle push from Macrow's 
boot, I can't say, but I'm afraid that, as a matter 
of fact, I shambled in anyhow on all fours. 

" You can't say he isn't clean now, Mums ! " 
cried Phyllis. " Isn't he a perfect angel ? I 
think I must have some new clothes made for 
him — he'll look frightfully sweet in them ! " 

I thought I should look all right if she would 
only let me go to my own tailor, who, though 
a trifle too given to press for immediate pay- 
ment, does understand my figure — but how was 
I to give her his address ? She said a lot more 
about me, till at last, not being used to such 
open admiration — especially from her — I began 
to feel a bit embarrassed ; it was enough to turn 
most monkeys' heads. To cover my confusion, 


I wandered round the room, just as 1 should 
have done if I had remained my old self, look- 
ing at this and that, taking up an article here 
and there, fingering it, and putting it down 
again. Then I sat on the music-stool and struck 
a few careless chords on the piano. I had 
meant to play them as much as I could re- 
member of the Choristers Waltz, but my fingers 
had all got so fumbly that I couldn't raise any 
tune in particular. But that would come back 
to me, with practice. 

Phyllis was highly amused, at first, by my 
performance, but she did not appear to think 
it showed any marked musical ability. If she 
had, she would not have insisted on my leaving 
off so soon. Of course a hint from her was 
enough for me, and I got off the music-stool 
and retired to a sofa without, I hope, letting 
her see how deeply she had disappointed me. 
I took up the nearest Society journal and began 
to glance through it with a show of interest. 
Not that I really cared two straws how Lady 
Honor Hyndlegge's small dance had gone off, 
or who were letting their houses for Ascot week, 
or going to have a houseboat at Henley — 1 
seemed now to have got so far beyond all that ! 


But I was determined to make Phyllis under- 
stand that I had intellectual tastes. 

However, it was a deuced tricky paper to 
manage — especially as my feet would keep on 
trying to turn over the pages instead of leaving 
it to my hands. So I am not sure that Phyllis 
quite took in the fact that I was actually read- 
ing, and, whatever it was I did read, I can't 
remember a single line of it now. 

But all of a sudden, as I sat there, Macrow 
appeared and announced : " Mr. Blundell " — 
and sure enough, in walked old Monty, irre- 
proachably got up as usual ! I was a bit 
staggered at first, for I wasn't aware he knew 
my aunt — / hadn't introduced him. 

Then it struck me ivhy he had come. He 
had heard of my decease, and volunteered to 
break the sad news to my family. It was pretty 
decent of him, really — though I would rather 
it had been anybody else. Because, between 
ourselves, I wouldn't have trusted dear old 
Monty to break the death of a bluebottle with- 
out managing to foozle it somehow. 

He couldn't see nie behind the paper, and, 
as I couldn't be of much assistance to him, I 
lay doggo, being naturally curious to hear 


how he would prepare them for the shock, and 
how they — especially Phyllis — would bear up 
under it. 


As it happened, my aunt and Phyllis had 
met Monty already, and evidently imagined he 
was merely making an ordinary afternoon call. 
Monty sat down, and asked Phyllis " if she 
had been in the Park that afternoon " — which 
struck me as rather a circuitous route to the 
information that I'd been cut off in the flower 
of my youth by being pitched out of a cab in 
Pall Mall. But he went on talking Society 
drivel for some minutes before my aunt in- 
quired " if he had seen anything lately of her 
good-for-nothing nephew ? " — meaning me. 

This of course was Monty's cue — and I poked 
my head out round the corner of my paper, 
and nodded hard at him, meaning, " Now's 
your time ! Out with it ! Don't keep 'em in 
suspense ! Tell 'em the worst ! " I suppose 
he hadn't noticed me before, and it rather 
upset him, for he dropped his eyeglass as if it 
had been red-hot. For the moment, I thought 
he must have recognised me, without remem- 


bering how improbable that was under the 

" Oddly enough," said Monty, looking every- 
where but at me, " I was expecting him to 
lunch with me at the Club to-day. But he — 
er — didn't turn up." 

" He gets more erratic every day ! " lamented 
my dear aunt. " He ought to be dining here 
this evening, and I shall be seriously annoyed 
if he forgets that, as there will be nobody to 
take in poor Miss Yellowly." 

So I was to have taken in Miss Yellowly ! 
If I had zvanted anything to reconcile me to 
what I had become, that would have about 
done it ! 

" I suppose he sent you some sort of excuse ? " 
said Phyllis. 

Again I tried to catch Monty's eye and buck 
him up to tell his news and get it over — but it 
was no good. 

" What ? Reggie ! He's much too casual 
for that ! " said Monty. " Likely as not he 
overslept himself or somethin'." 

Now this was too bad of Monty — he knows 
perfectly well that I hardly ever sit down to 
breakfast later than half-past twelve ! But I 


began to see now that he couldn't have heard 
of my accident after all. 

"Disgraceful!" said my aunt. "At his age, 
he ought to be ashamed of such lazy, idle 

"There's this to be said," put in Monty. 
" Dear old Reggie hasn't anything particular 
to do when he is up." 

" Then he ought to have ! " declared my aunt 
— and Monty agreed with her. 

" I'm always tellin' him he doesn't take half 
enough exercise," he added. 

He wouldn't have said that if he had seen 
me jumping about all the afternoon with that 
confounded tambourine ! And Monty, too ; 
who takes all his exercise in a motor ! 

" I didn't mean exercise^" said Aunt Selina. " I 
meant work. Every young man ought to have 
some profession." 

Monty agreed once more, and said that, for 
his part, he found being at the Bar had made 
all the difference to hitn. What difference — 
except knowing that his name was painted up 
outside some door in Lincoln's Inn which he 
never by any chance darkened, I fancy Master 
Monty wouldn't have found it easy to explain. 


But my aunt said she was glad to think that 
I had one friend who set me a good example, 
and begged him to look after me as much as 
possible. To which old Monty, trying to look 
as like the infant Samuel in plaster as he could 
at such short notice, replied that she could rely 
on him to do his best to keep me out of any 
serious mischief. 

The notion of old Monty as my guardian 
angel was so rich that I couldn't resist grinning 
at him from behind the journal — and I saw him 
gasp. No doubt he thought that, for a monkey, 
I was a trifle over familiar, but he took no 
further notice. And my aunt went on slanging 
me ; I had had every advantage, excellent 
opportunities of making my own way in the 
world, and I was so incorrigibly indolent that 
I had neglected them all — and so forth, all 
of which I had heard on several previous 

Good old Monty stuck up for me — after a 
fashion. He didn't think it was my fault 
exactly ; I was a dear good chap — one of the 
best, in short. It was only that I was naturally 
too thick to learn anything thoroughly, and in 
fact, what he might call — if my aunt would 


forgive the expression — "a born rotter." Aunt 
Selina didn't object to the expression in the 
least — in fact, both she and Phylhs appeared 
to think it hit me off rather neatly. Then 
they asked if Monty considered I was likely 
to do better in the Colonies, but Monty thought 
(and it just shows how little he knows me) 
that roughing it was not precisely in my line 
of country. 

By this time I was, as you may suppose, 
getting fairly sick of the subject. It wasn't 
pleasant to feel I was eavesdropping, as it 
were, and I knew, too, that when they did 
hear that I was scratched for ail my engage- 
ments, they would be no end sorry they had 
been so down on me. For myself, of course, 
I didn't mind a rap. The worse they made 
Reggie Ballimore out, the more satisfied / felt 
at being no longer connected with such a 

Still, it struck me it was quite time to switch 
Monty on to some pleasanter topic, so I got 
quietly down from the sofa, and, stealing up 
behind his chair, I scratched him gently just 
above his coat-tail buttons. 

He turned sharp round and saw me. I never 


saw any one go quite so green before — but he 
said nothing. 

" I'm afraid, Mr. Blundell," said my aunt, 
noticing how he was shifting about in his seat, 
"that you have chosen rather an uncomfortable 
chair ? " 

Monty said, '' Oh, not at all — most comfort- 
able," and inquired if Phyllis " had done the 
Academy yet ? " Which, as it didn't open for 
some days, was a silly-ass thing to say — even 
for Monty — but I don't believe he knew pre- 
cisely what he was saying just then. 

"Are you quite sure the monkey isn't bother- 
ing you ? " asked Phyllis ; " I thought he was 
on the sofa." 

"Oh, then — then you noticed it too?" poor 
old Monty blurted out. 

"Why, of course — it's mine," said Phyllis, "I 
only bought it this afternoon. I hope you've 
no antipathy to monkeys ? " 

"Oh, not a bit!" said Monty, beginning to 
turn a wholesomer colour. " Can't say I ever 
kept one myself — but awfully fond of them, 
assure you I am." 

On which Phyllis gave the history of my 


" Wish you'd told me you were on the look- 
out for a monkey, Miss Adeane," said that 
blundering ass Monty, " because / could have 
got you one from a man who has some clinkers ; 
real well-bred ones, don't you know — the sort 
they don't send out with organs ! " 

Phyllis — bless her ! — replied with a slight fall 
of temperature that she was "afraid she pre- 
ferred to choose her pets for herself, and that 
I was the only monkey she had ever seen that 
she could imagine herself caring for in the 

Which was one in the eye for old Monty ! 
I could afford to despise him now; my position 
in the household was already secure. Before 
she was much older, Phyllis would be proud 
that she alone had had the insight to detect 
my marvellous superiority ! So, as I sat in 
one of the window-seats, cooling my tail among 
the marguerites that filled the flower-box, I 
allowed myself to dream of my coming glory 
— till Macrow came in with afternoon tea. 

Here, I thought, was a good opportunity to 
show that I was perfectly familiar with the 
ordinary social amenities. I was in my aunt's 
house — almost in the position of host, so to 


speak — and anyway I wasn't going to let Monty 
attend to Phyllis's wants while I was there to 
look after her myself ! So I made a bee-line 
for the tea-table, and got hold of a plate 
of hot tea-cakes and another of cucumber 

Perhaps I was too impetuous ; my wrists were 
weaker than 1 had thought, and, as usual, I 
did not take my tail into consideration. The 
result was that I not only shot the cakes and 
cucumber sandwiches over my cousin's charm- 
ing afternoon frock, but upset the cream-jug 
into Aunt Selina's lap. 

It was awkward of course — but it might have 
happened to any fellow without necessarily 
putting him out of countenance ; it was the 
kind of thing which a man of the world could 
pass o£f easily enough with a graceful apology 
or a witty remark, and perhaps make a friend 
for life into the bargain. Only, unfortunately, 
situated as I was, I could do nothing at all 
just then except gibber — and I realised that one 
of the undeniable drawbacks to monkey-existence 
is that one is so apt to get misunderstood over 
the merest trifles. 



I should say it would be about as much as 
Aunt Selina's place is worth to speak severely 
to Phyllis, and, to do her justice, she is far too 
well-bred a woman to make any visitor feel 
uncomfortable by ragging her in his presence. 

Still, any one could have seen she was 
annoyed ; and, while the cream was being 
spooned out of her lap into a slop-basin, she 
made remarks on the inconveniences of allowing 
monkeys to be about at afternoon tea which 
I, for one, considered most beastly offensive. 

And even Phyllis could find no better excuse 
for me than that I was probably half-starved, 
and the sight of cucumber sandwiches had 
proved too much for my manners. Which 
was too sickening — considering my sole object 
had been to nip in ahead of Monty in handing 
the food to her ! And yet people talk rot about 
"feminine insight ! " 

But I kept my temper. I merely let them 
see that I was hurt by turning my tail on 
them all, and stalking off to a corner — not, I 
flatter myself, without a certain dignity. I had 


had nothing since breakfast, except, as I fancy 
I mentioned before, a bit of biscuit and a 
rotten banana — but, after my aunt had called 
me "a greedy little horror," I could not bring 
myself to accept one of her sandwiches. Not 
to mention that my doctor has often told me 
never on any account to touch cucumber. 

Presently I had what I thought (and still 
think) a flash of real inspiration. If I couldn't 
speaky by Jove ! I could spell ! Rather rockily, 
perhaps — in fact it was my spelling that really 
spun me in more than one exam. — but still, 
quite well enough to make myself understood 
by the meanest intelligence. 

All I actually required was some sort of 
Alphabet. With that I could fix up a few 
simple sentences and lay them at Phyllis's 
feet. When she read, for instance, something 
like this : " Sorry. My mistake. Not Pig. 
Only Polite. Disguised, but still a Gentleman. 
Please let me go on Stage," she would be 
astonished — but even more touched by my 
appeal. The problem was, how to get hold 
of an Alphabet. 

Now, though few people give me credit for 
it, I Jiave brains when I choose to exert them 


— and it didn't take me long to come across 
the identical thing for my purposes. 

For, lying on a chair in the corner, I found 
a book in a thick leather binding — oldish, I 
imagined (I must tell you my aunt rather 
fancies herself as a Connoisseur, and of course 
gets taken in with all manner of worthless old 
rubbish). But what fetched 7ne was the inside 
of the book. On nearly every page there was 
a big fat capital letter, gilded and painted in a 
rather gaudy style, much after that of the texts 
I used to illuminate when I was a good little 
boy in a holland blouse. If I'd searched for 
a month I couldn't have got hold of anything 
more topping ! 

So I went to work, and soon ferreted out an 
S, and an O, and then an R — but I couldn't 
discover another R, and the silly old Johnny 
who had painted the bally book didn't seem 
ever to have heard of a Y ! However, SORI 
was correct enough for a monkey, and I tore 
those letters out — pretty neatly on the whole, 
for the paper was devilish tough — and then 
selected others I was likely to want, keeping 
as quiet as possible, so as to surprise Phyllis 
all the more later on. 


But that interfering idiot of a Monty spotted 
me before I was half ready ! 

" Mischievous Httle beggars monkeys are," he 
remarked, " always up to somethin' or other ! " 

" So7He monkeys may be," said Phyllis ; " not 
lume. It wasn't mischief just now — only hunger, 
poor darling ! " 

" Well, but I say," persisted Monty, " he's 
busy tearin' up some paper now, with pictures 
in it, too !" 

"Oh, I expect it's only Punch" said Phyllis, 
without looking round. " It doesn't matter, 
because we've seen that — at least we've looked 
at the pictures, you know." 

Monty said he never saw Punch himself — it 
didn't amuse him, somehow — still, he might be 
mistaken, but he'd a sort of idea that it hadn't 
gone in yet for giving coloured illustrations. That 
fetched them all up to see what I was about, 
and then my aunt gave a kind of scream : 
"Good gracious, Phyllis!" she cried, "the 
miserable little wretch has got hold of that 
book of ours" (or she may have said "Hours," 
— / don't know) "which Professor Peagrum 
kindly lent me to look at. And he's tearing it 
all to pieces ! " 


All Phyllis said to me was, " O Monkey ! 
— Monkey I ^^ But even as I still frantically 
tried to deal her out an S and an O and 
an R, this gentle reproof cut me to the 

"What shall I say to the poor dear Pro- 
fessor ? " wailed my aunt. " A valuable MS. 
like that ! And when he was hoping the British 
Museum might buy it, too ! " 

"Afraid they won't give him much for it ?/<?«'," 
said Monty, inspecting the fragments through 
his glass. " Monkey's taken a lot off the value 
already ! " 

"Mums, darling!'' put in Phyllis. "It was 
only his play ! And really, it was a good deal 
your fault, you know ! You shouldn't leave 
such things about ! The poor monkey couldn't 
possibly know what he was doing ! " 

" It's high time he was taught," said my aunt 
grimly. On which Monty volunteered the 
opinion that "a good licking would be a lesson 
to me." 

" I won't have him whipped ! " declared 
Phyllis. " He knows already that he's done 
wrong. Only look at him!" [1 dare say I did 
look pretty abject — for 1 really was rather 


annoyed with myself.] "And I'll pay for it, 
out of my allowance ! " 

"As I believe the Professor gave some 
hundreds of pounds for it at Sotheby's, Phyllis," 
retorted Aunt Selina, "it may be some little time 
before you are able to make up the amount." 

Of course I shouldn't allow her to do any- 
thing of the sort ; I would take the entire re- 
sponsibility on myself ! After all, what would 
a few hundreds matter to me, as soon as I got 
that engagement at the Palace or the Hippo- 
drome ? 

" Fact of the matter is, Miss Adeane," said 
dear Monty, "you'll never feel safe with a little 
beast like that about. I should advise you to 
get rid of it. If you're really keen on having 
a monkey, I can get you one with no nonsense 
about it — as quiet and well-behaved as any 
poodle. Only got to say the word, don't you 

" I thought I told you before," said Phyllis, 
looking all the jollier in a bait, "that the word 
is ' No,' Mr. Blundell. Do you quite under- 
stand ? No — no — no! And if you persist in 
pressing any more monkeys on me which I 
don't want, I shall be really vexed !" 


But old Monty wouldn't take a hint ; he 
seemed bent on crabbing my chances if he 
could — and we'd always been such pals too ! 

"What I mean to say is," he went on, "if 
you must keep a monkey, why not a healthy 
one ? I don't set up for a judge of 'em myself, 
but even / can see the little beggar is about as 
rickety as he can be." 

"He is7it!'' said Phyllis indignantly. "And 
if he is, he can be cured. And he shall, too ! " 

" I should have said he was too far gone my- 
self," said Monty. " Besides, I fancy he's got 
something worse the matter, if you ask vie." 

" I don't ask you," said Phyllis. " What else 
do you think he's got ? " 

"Oh, I may be wrong," said Monty. "Hope 
so, I'm sure. But those pink patches under 
the skin, eh ? Look to me like — well — like the 
beginning of — er — mange, don't you know." 

" O Mr. Blundell ! Not really ? " cried 

But I could see that her ideal of me had 
received its first serious shock. 

" I could have told you better if he'd been a 
fox-terrier," said Monty. "Still, if I were you, 
I'd have in a vet. Nasty thing, mange ! " 


" Horrible ! " said Phyllis, with a shudder. 
" But no. I wont believe it's anything so un- 
pleasant ! " 

" I always abstain, on principle, my dear, as 
you know," observed my aunt, "from saying 
anything so banal as * I told you so,' Other- 
wise I should be tempted to ask what else you 
could possibly expect from a piano-organ ! " 

The suddenness of the accusation had com- 
pletely floored me. It was so beastly unjust 
too ! What on earth did an unmitigated ass 
like Monty know about mange ? I admit that 
I may have been a trifle flushed in places. 
What fellow wouldn't be, I'd like to know, 
after being scrubbed with such an infernal 
hard brush as I had been ! 

Still, I was determined to keep myself under 
control — to meet this terrible charge with the 
calm consciousness of innocence. 

A hero in a melodrama, when accused by 
the villain of something he hasn't done, only 
has to stand in the limelight, with his right 
hand raised to the ceiling, and shout : " 1 call 
upon the Eternal Justice to decide between 
that Man and Me ! " (or some such remark). 
And that brings the curtain down. 


But I had no speech and no limelight. There 
wasn't even a curtain that would come down. 
I can assure you that just then I jolly well 
wished there had been one, if it would only 
have put an end to my trying situation. 


I had put up with a good deal. I had heard 
Monty discuss the Reggie Ballimore that was, 
and give him away with a pound of tea, so 
to speak, — and I hadn't turned a hair. The 
coming Variety Star, " the Unparalleled Pheno- 
menon of Simian Intelligence" (as they would 
probably announce me in the advertisements), 
was infinitely above such paltry detractors. 

But now, not content with running me down 
as the man I had ceased to be, he had done 
his best to disenchant Phyllis with me in my 
present shape ; he had made the one insinua- 
tion which no sensitive monkey with the spirit 
of a sick caterpillar could take lying down — 
he had charged me with showing symptoms of 
incipient — I can hardly bring myself to mention 
the beastly word, but I must — mange ! 


Yet, sorely as I was provoked, I still struggled 
to be calm. I recollected that I was a Gentle- 
man first, a Monkey afterwards. I would not 
condescend to a vulgar brawl with Monty in 
the presence of my aunt and Phyllis. 

I simply looked him straight in the face, my 
chest heaving with indignation, my eyes flash- 
ing (naturally I couldn't see them doing it, but 
I've no doubt whatever that they did flash), 
and my teeth chattering with righteous wrath. 

And Monty was unable to meet my eyes. 

" I say, Miss Adeane," he stammered, " I — I 
don't quite like the look of this monkey. Seems 
to me he's turnin' nasty. D'you think he's 
quite safe, loose like this ? " 

" He was as quiet as possible only a minute 
or two ago," faltered Phyllis. 

" He was busy tearing up the professor's 
missal thenj' said my aunt. " But of course, 
Phyllis, if you consider he should be given every 
facility for further mischief, / have nothing to 

" Perhaps," Phyllis admitted reluctantly, " it 
might be better to — to keep him on a chain in 

" He'd soon slip that," said Monty ; " monkeys 


are so artful. If I might suggest, Miss Adeane, 
/ should put him in a cage. Then, don't you 
see — supposing he's really got the ma " 

"Yes — yes," said Phyllis petulantly. "But 
you see, Mr. Blundell, we haven't got a 
cage ! " 

" But, my dear," put in my aunt, " we have. 
He could have poor Cockles — the very thing ! 
I'll ring for Macrow and tell him to find it and 
bring it here." Which she did, promptly. 

Of course I saw at once that this would about 
biff me. What earthly chance should I have to 
exhibit all my accomplishments then ? Why, 
the Admirable Crichton himself couldn't have 
gained any reputation worth mentioning inside 
a cockatoo's cage ! I decided to " off " it 
while I could — but Monty was too smart for 
me. " Shut the windows, quick ! " he yelled — 
and they were shut before 1 could decide which 
one to make for ! 

" Perhaps I'd better catch hold of him," that 
officious ass next suggested. "Or he might bolt 
through your butler's legs, don't you know, the 
minute the door is opened," 

"Oh, do be careful, dear Mr. Blundell," my 
aunt entreated ; " he might bite you." 


"7'm not afraid of him," declared Monty, 
wishing to show off before PhyUis. "Still, I'll 
try coaxing first. Poo' little Chappie, then," he 
began, snapping his foolish thumb and finger at 
me, " come along, good little mannie ! " . . . 

I came along. I shinned up Monty's lovely 
fawn-coloured waistcoat with a suddenness that 
took his wind ; I smacked his flabby cheeks ; I 
wrung his nose ; I boxed his ears ; I hung on 
behind and helped myself to his hair by the 
handful — I'm afraid I even bit him ! But, after 
all, what's the good of being a monkey unless 
you act up to it ? 

For quite a couple of minutes I simply gave 
old Monty beans. And I don't think he could 
have cut a very heroic figure in Phyllis's eyes 
as he hopped about the room, howling, "Take 
the little devil off me, somebody, do ! " If 
she'd had just a shade more sense of humour 
she would have roared — but, so far as I was 
able to notice, she was more alarmed than 
amused just then. 

At this stage of the proceedings, Macrow 
turned up with the parrot-cage. I tried to 
dodge past him — but he shut the door just 
in time. So I made a spring for the mantel- 


piece. Aunt Selina rather goes in for old china, 
and there were cups and plates and things up 
each side of the overmantel on brackets, which 
made a ripping ladder. I discovered I was a 
nailer at climbing, and the crockery came in 
useful to keep Monty and Macrow in check 
for a while. 

They tell you monkeys cant shy — I only know 
/ could. I doubled up Macrow with a bit of 
Old Staffordshire, which caught him just under 
his silver watch-chain, and I landed Monty in 
the jaw with a well -delivered lustre milkpot, 
and again with an Urbino plate on the shin — 
all three really pretty shots ! Even if Phyllis 
and my aunt had come within range (which 
they took jolly good care not to do), I shouldn't 
have hurt either of them — not even my aunt. 
I was not making war on women ! 

However, my ammunition ran short at last, 
and, when Macrow slipped out and returned 
with a long-handled broom, I saw I couldn't 
hold the position against such overwhelming 
odds, and should have to quit. So I made a 
flying leap for a console - \.7Co\q between the 
windows, where I found a fresh supply of pro- 
jectiles — chiefiy Dresden ware, if I remember 


right — till I was forced to retreat up the curtains 
and along the pole, Macrow jobbing at me with 
the beastly broom, and Monty buzzing books 
after me — any one of which would have done 
my business if they hadn't gone through the 
windows instead. 

Then I took a daring dive off the pole, on to 
my aunt's back — I was sorry, but she shouldn't 
have got in my way — and leap-frogged over 
her head on to the piano, which I defended 
as long as I could with the flower-vases and 

Take it altogether, it was one of the very 
finest rags I ever had in my life, and under 
happier circumstances I should have thoroughly 
enjoyed it. But the top of the piano was too 
exposed to the enemy's fire, so I retired into 
entrenchments underneath, where they could 
only dislodge me by a frontal attack. 

It made me realise once more that my volun- 
teer training had not been entirely thrown 
away ! Macrow advanced in force with the 
drawing-room tongs, while Monty directed 
operations from a distance. I knew Macrow, 
of course, and if only I'd had half a sovereign 
in my pocket, I believe I could have squared 


him, even then, — but I hadn't so much as a 
pocket ! A similar reason prevented me from 
hoisting a white handkerchief and proposing an 
honourable surrender. And I had fallen into 
the common military mistake of leaving my rear 
insufficiently protected. The consequence was 
that, with no warning whatever, a waste-paper 
basket was clapped down on me from behind 
by hands which I recognised only too well 
through the wicker-work — Phyllis has rather 
jolly hands. I don't say it wasn't plucky of 
her, for she couldn't know that nothing would 
ever induce me to bite her fingers. Still, it was 
not the act of a sportswoman. And that she 
should turn against me was a knock-out blow ! 
After that there was nothing for it but to let 
myself be ignominiously hustled into Cockle's 
confounded cage. How I wished I could re- 
cover my speech, for even a moment — and then 
somehow, all at once, back it came with a rush ! 
" You're making a great mistake ! " I managed 
to articulate, quite distinctly. " Telephone, 
Manager, Empire, come immediately. Important 
business proposal ! " 

I dare say they were slightly astonished, but 
I can't say. Because just then my head began 


to swim, everything got dark — I suppose I must 
have gone off. 

When I opened my eyes, a strange man — 
evidently the Empire Manager — was bending 
over me. " I want engagement," I said eagerly. 
" Cleverest Monkey in Universe. Tremendous 
draw. Will take a hundred a week to start 
with ! " 

" Coming round at last," he said to a young 
lady, who, I now saw, was not Phyllis, being 
in a nurse's uniform. " But still wandering." 

I found I was lying in bed in the acci- 
dent ward of St. George's Hospital, and the 
stranger was not a Variety Manager — merely 
the house-surgeon. Also I was no longer a 
monkey — which was beastly disappointing at 

It seemed that that cab accident had given 
me severe concussion of the brain, but I 
had not lost my life — only my consciousness for 
several hours. And, as it is obvious that any- 
thing, even when lost, is bound to be some- 
where or other all the time, my consciousness 
must have got mislaid for a while inside the 


I have been moved to my own rooms, and 
am told I shall be as right as rain in another 
day or two. I am well enough already to 
dictate my adventures to the trained nurse who 
looks after me — and most awfully kind and 
attentive and all that she is, too, though she 
will go off into fits of giggles every now and 
then for no reason that I can see ! 

Old Monty has called once or twice — but, to 
tell you the truth, after what has passed between 
us, I haven't felt quite up to seeing him yet. 
As soon as I am fit enough and can raise the 
funds, I mean to go quite away and lead an 
entirely new life. Where, I haven't decided yet. 
Canada, most likely — or Monte Carlo. 

I am not sure whether I shall have the 
courage to call and say good-bye to Phyllis and 
Aunt Selina before I start. That drawing-room 
in Cadogan Gardens would be rather too full 
of painful reminiscences — if you know what 
I mean. 

And, for another thing, I own I shirk hearing 
what became of the monkey. 

Now I look back on it, it seems curious that, 
with all my accomplishments and knowledge 
of the world and so on, I should only have 


managed to land that monkey in a worse hat 
than I found him in. 

But I've always had the most rotten luck — 
wherever I've been — and so I suppose the poor 
little beggar got let in for some of it ! 

"AS THE TWIG IS BENT . . ." &c. 

(A Domestic Dialogue) 
Scene — Library in the Town-house of Peter 

GEOUR, Drysalters, Bishops^ate Street). 

Time — About 7 p.m. toivards the end of May. 

Mr. Slacksole {alone, to himself). I must put 
my foot down ! I'm determined not to — {starts 
as door opens and Butler enters). Oh, ah — yes, / 
rang, Trundler. . . . Er — Mr. Frederick not in 
yet, I suppose ? 

Trundler. Been in some time back. Sir — 
from Lord's. {With reflected pride) We managed 
to beat Chalkshire, Sir, after all ! 

Mr. Slack, {without elation). Did we ? Tell 

Mr. Frederick I should be glad to see him 

here, at once. {To himself, after Trundler has 

left) Always at this confounded cricket ! He's 

not been near the office for days ! So long as 

he was at college, I never said a word. No 



one can say I've been a harsh father to my 
children ! How many parents would have 
allowed themselves to be habitually addressed 
as " Poffles " ? But I've always gone on the 
principle of encouraging them to look upon me 
as a friend. Still, to be wasting his time like 
this now — when he ought to be devoting him- 
self heart and soul to business — no, it's really 
more than I can put up with ! A few quiet 
words — when his mother isn't in the room — 


Enter FREDERICK exuberantly. 

Fred. So you've heard the result ? Toppin', 
isn't it ? I knew you'd be jolly pleased about 
it, Poffles ! They only wanted 60 to win — 
and we got 'em all out for 56 ! " Collapse 
of Chalkshire. Slacksole's Brilliant Bowling " 
they've got on the posters. You know the sort 
of bally rot those Cricket Editions go in for. 
Still, I must say I was rather in form. I was 
no sooner put on to 

Mr. Slack, {interrupting nervously). Yes, yes, I 
dare say. But I didn't send for you to talk 
about the match, precisely. 

Fred, {bewildered). Not? But — Poffles — 
what on earth else is there to talk about ? 


Mr. S. {with growing embarrassment). Some- 
thing that is — er — more serious — for both of us, 
Frederick. The fact is, I — well, I'm beginning 
to see that I've made a mistake — a very great 

Fred, {reassuringly). Well, we've all done 
that in our time, you know, Poffles. {Sits 
down and crosses his legs.) Don't you mind 
telling me. Better get it off your chest. Two 
heads are better than one, eh ? Chances are 
I can put you up to a way out of it without 
its coming round to the Mater. 

Mr. S. [on his dignity). It is a very different 
matter from what you — er — seem to suppose, 
Frederick. And, before I go any further, I — I 
think for the future it would be better if you 
gave up calling me " PofBes." 

Fred, {generously). I'm hanged if I do ! I've 
never called you anything else since I was a 
kid — and you'll always be "Poffles" to Me — 
whatever you've done ! After all, it can't be 
anything downright 

Mr. S. {bounding in his chair). You — you per- 
sist in misunderstanding me, Frederick ! I never 
— er — the only thing I have to reproach myself 
with is my indulgence to you. And I consider 


I have every right to complain of — of the kind 
of life you have chosen to lead. 

Fred, {staring). The kind of ? Oh, now 

I see. (Bursts out laughing^ Some one's been 
pulling youi innocent old leg, Poffles ! Why, 
I'm as steady as a church ! Think it over, and 
ask yourself : Is it likely I should be such an 
ass as to risk lowering my cricket average by 
playing the goat ? 

Mr. S. I am not accusing you of — er — playing 
the goat. What I'm complaining of is the way 
you are playing cricket. 

Fred, {aggrieved). Well, really, Poffles, I 
shouldn't have thought you could find much 
fault with that I It's rather rough, when I've 
knocked up my sixth century already this season, 
and done the hat trick only this afternoon, to 
come home and be treated as if I'd made a brace 
of blobs and been slogged all over the field ! 

Mr. S. {at sea). I'm not objecting to cricket 
in moderation — say, on Saturday afternoons. 

Fred. In Regent's Park, I suppose ? Come, 
now, Poffles, you can't seriously believe that 
a first-class match can be played out in a half 
holiday, however bad the pitch may be ? You 
know better than that! 


Mr. S. {nettled). Whatever I may not know, 
Frederick, at least I know this. All the money 
I've spent on having you equipped at school 
and college for the serious business of life seems 
to have been absolutely thrown away ! 

Fred. " Thrown away " ! I do like that ! 
Why, if I hadn't made the very best of my 
time at school, should I have got my Cricket 
Blue while I was a Fresher ? You grumbled 
a bit at my having a professional to coach me 
in the holidays — but see how it's got me on ! 
And I won the Hundred and the Quarter at 
the Sports last year ! Upon my word, Poffles, 
I don't quite see what it is you do want ! 

Mr, S. What I want, Frederick, is to see 
you attending more regularly to your duties at 
the office, and — and, once for all, I must insist 
on your not addressing me as " Poffles " ; it 
is a familiarity I can no longer permit. 

Fred, Of course if you're determined to keep 
me at arm's length, you must please yourself. 
But for me to chuck up cricket, with such a 
career as I've got before me — why, it would 
be perfect skittles ! 

Mr. S. Believe me, my boy, you can never 
earn a living by cricket I 


Fred. I could if I turned professional. But 
I suppose even you wouldn't care for me to do 
that ! 

Mr. S. /? I am trying to show you the folly 
of frittering away all your youth in idleness ! 

Fred. You'd find there's precious little "frit- 
tering" about playing forward in Rugger, and 
you don't get much chance to idle when you're 
bowling on a plumb wicket. It's jolly hard 
work, I can tell you ! 

Mr. S. That may be so, Frederick. But yotir 
hard work should be at the office ! 

Fred. It's all very well — but you've no idea 
what it is for a fellow who's led the open-air 
life / have, to be boxed up all the week in a 
beastly office ! It knocks me up in no time. 
You ask the Mater if it doesn't ! 

Mr. S. Young Scrymgeour doesn't seem to 
find it too much for him ! 

Fred. It may suit a smug like Bob Scrym- 
geour — a rotter who never made a run in his 
life, and don't know the difference between 
Rugger and Soccer ! All I know is, it don't 
suit me! 

Mr. S. And the consequence is, Frederick, that 
he will be taken into partnership instead of you. 


Fred, {loftily). He's welcome to it, for all / 
care ! We should never pull together, you know. 
He's not my sort. He takes to business natur- 
ally. Now, I never shall — not my line at all ! 

Mr. S. You had your choice of the Army or 
the Bar — and you wouldn't go in for either. 

Fred. Because of the bally exams. You see, 
after a hard day's exercise, you can't sit down 
and grind away at stiff subjects — you're simply 
bound to go to sleep over 'em ! But, though 
I don't pretend to be keen about the office, 
I'm quite game to put in a day there — when- 
ever I've got nothing else on. 

Mr. S. {with bitterness). What earthly use do 
you imagine that would be — to us ? 

Fred, {with superiority). More use than you 
fancy, perhaps — even if I never did a stroke ! 
You mayn't know it, but you may take this 
from me : Athletics count for just as much in 
the City as they do everywhere else. Look at 
the way a Blue gets on in the House ! And 
I don't mind betting you that it's done you 
a lot of good already, being known as my 

Mr. S. {exasperated). However it may be on 
the Stock Exchange, Frederick, drysalting is — 


er — not governed by such considerations. You 
are talking downright nonsense ! 

Fred, {stiffly). I'm not accustomed to being 
told I talk nonsense, and I think it's jolly well 
time I went. I've had about enough of being 
ragged like this, when I've done nothing to 
deserve it ! \_Rises, and moves towards door. 

Mr. S. {climbing down). I — I didn't mean to 
"rag" you, my boy. I was merely — er — en- 
deavouring to 

Fred, {with severity). Whether you intend it 
or not, you seem to 7ne to be doing your level 
best to destroy all confidence between us. Up 
to now, I've always looked upon you as a pal 
rather than a father. In future I shall know 
better ! \_He opens the door. 

Mr. S. {overwJielmed with contrition). Fred ! 
Don't leave me like that. If — if I've spoken 
too harshly ! 

Fred. If ! I can tell you this much. If I 
hadn't happened to be in a nailing good temper 
over winning that match, you and I might have 

had a downright row — and, even as it is 

{^Sees Mr. S.'s face, relents, comes back, and pats 
him affectionately on the shoulder.) No, it's all 
right, Poffles, dear old boy ! I'm not really 


angry. I know how it was. Something's gone 
wrong at the office, and you come home and 
let off steam at me ! If you'd been at a PubHc 
School and 'Varsity yourself, you'd understand 
better what it means to have a reputation to 
keep up. There, there — I hope I know how 
to make allowances — don't let it occur again, 
that's all. And, I say, Poffles, there's the 
dressing gong ! Better hurry up, hadn't you ? — 
unless you want to keep the Mater waiting 
again ! 

Mr. S. {to himself, as he follows Fred upstairs). 
After all, he's just the type of manly young 
Englishman that has made our country what 
it is! I ought to be proud of him, instead 
of — but he's forgiven all that — he called me 
" Poffles " twice ! (Aloud) And so, Fred, you 
bowled Chalkshire out with — er — a brace of 
blobs, eh ? Capital ! capital ! 

[He disappears into dressing-room as 
curtain falls. 


{Being the remarkable experience of an Art Collector) 

It was the afternoon of my arrival at Domstadt 
— how many days ago, I really forget. I only 
intended to stay a night there, on my way to 
take the waters at Bad Schoppenegg — but I am 
still in Domstadt. Why, will appear later on. 
I was strolling through one of the narrow and 
winding thoroughfares of this ancient city, 
which (though I am beginning to know it fairly 
well by this time) I had never visited before, 
when I chanced to see a small antiquity-shop. 
I went in, of course. No bric-d-brac hunter 
ever can resist entering an antiquity-shop. It 
is not an expensive amusement : you go in, 
and potter about for a few minutes, asking the 
prices of various objects you have no intention 
of purchasing. Then you say "Adieu" or 
" Guten Tag" politely, and walk out. The pro- 
prietor is perfectly contented — he never expects 



any other result. After all, it is the way in 
which he makes his living. 

So I walked in. It was quite the usual sort 
of shop, with the usual bald, bearded, and 
spectacled proprietor inside it. Simply to play 
the game, I asked the price of something which 
I should have been sorry to take as a gift. He 
said it was twenty marks, and, having satisfied 
my curiosity, I was preparing to go — when, 
rather to cover my retreat than with any 
genuine desire for information, I asked if he 
had any really old pieces of stained glass. He 
said he had one in the back shop, if I would 
care to see it, and I said I would. 

He was so evidently shy about showing it 
that I felt convinced it would turn out to be 
some amusingly audacious "fake." I followed 
him into his back parlour, disregarding his en- 
treaties that I should stay where I was, and then 
he reluctantly fished out a panel in a wooden 
frame, which he handed me wnth a grunt. 

The first sight of it almost took away my 
breath. Old stained glass has a peculiar fasci- 
nation for me, and this was absolutely as fine 
an example as I ever remember to have seen 
of sixteenth-century Swiss work — heraldic in 


character, bold in design, and rich in colour- 
ing. I examined it carefully. I happen to have 
some knowledge of glass, and I could discover 
no new pieces — it was in perfect condition, 
with scarcely a crack. " How much do you 
want for this?" I said, with the sad fore- 
knowledge that the lowest sum he was likely 
to ask would be far beyond my limited means. 
He was silent for a moment, as if he were 
speculating how much I could stand, and then 
he said "Twendy mark." 

Considering that this particular panel would 
easily fetch ^150, if not more, in any saleroom, 
I did not think a sovereign was at all out of the 
way for it. "I'll have that panel," I said, with 
all the calm 1 could command, and he said, 
" Very well," and seemed anxious to get me 
back into the front shop again. 

But I had begun to look about me, and I 
speedily discovered that this back shop con- 
tained a variety of objects of sufficient beauty 
and rarity to delight the heart of any connoisseur. 
There was a Limoges enamel plaque, for instance, 
by the younger Pdnicaud, which was almost 
priceless ; a boxwood medallion, about the size 
of a draught, with a carved and painted relief 


of a female in a Holbein headdress, similar, 
though far superior, to one I had been offered 
at Frankfort for sixty pounds ; an engraved 
goblet of rock crystal ; a tiny fifteenth-century 
group (German, I think) of St. Hubert and the 
miraculous stag, exquisitely carved in pearwood ; 
a small ivory cabinet, inlaid with lapis-lazuli : 
and a seventeenth-century portrait in coloured 
wax with miniature jewellery, which was equal 
to the best specimens of the kind in the Wallace 

And not a single one of all these things could 
by any possibility be other than genuine ; no 
person with the slightest experience and judg- 
ment could have doubted that for a moment ! 

I inquired the price of each, and I invariably 
got the same answer — " Twendy mark." I 
bought them all. I felt it was a justifiable piece 
of extravagance under the circumstances. When 
one does come across a dealer whose prices are 
so extremely reasonable, he deserves to be en- 
couraged. I scorned to haggle or beat him 
down — and yet, although in the short time I 
was there I must have laid out at least as much 
as forty pounds (which was considerably more 
than I anticipated when I first went in), if he felt 


any gratification at the briskness of the busi- 
ness he was doing, he certainly suppressed it. 

And I must confess that, without pretending 
to any higher code of ethics than my brother 
collectors, I was not wholly free from mis- 
givings. Why was he selling these things so 
much under ordinary trade prices ? He must 
know their value — and if he did not, it was not 
7ny business to teach him — I couldn't be buyer 
and seller, too ! But had he some pressing 
reason for wanting to get rid of them at any 
cost ? They hadn't the sinister look of objects 
to which a curse was attached — and even in 
that case I thought I would risk it. But suppose 
they were stolen goods — should I not be ex- 
posing myself to rather awkward consequences ? 
Might not my proceedings be capable of mis- 
construction ? 

My expression must have betrayed something 
of my mental state, for this paragon of dealers 
hastened to reassure me. 

" Don't be sorry," he said (meaning, I think, 
" Don't be uneasy "). " I haf not robbered dese 
tings. I led you haf dem so cheap, begause — 
ach, I gannot dell it to you in English " — and 
he proceeded to explain in his own tongue. 


I did not follow him as perfectly as I could 
wish — but I gathered that, either as a penance 
for something he had done, or in gratitude for 
some danger he had escaped, he had made a 
solemn vow that, between sunrise and sunset 
on a certain anniversary, he would ask no more 
and no less than twenty marks for any article, 
no matter what its intrinsic value might be. I 
had happened to look in on that particular day — 
that was all. 

I now began to understand his desire to keep 
me in the front shop, where the rubbish was. 

While applauding his piety, I felt (for even a 
collector may have a conscience) that I oughtn't 
to take too great an advantage of it. 

" Perhaps," I said, " I could manage to do 
without one or two of the things." 

I felt it would be a hard matter to decide 
which. But he said a vow was a vow, and he 
must hold himself bound by it ; though he 
considered it lucky that I had not looked in till 
the sun was so near setting. 

I never interfere between a man and his 
conscience, so I let him have his way. It only 
remained to pay, and it was a convenience to 
me when he said he would take a cheque — for 


to part with forty pounds in hard cash would 
have obHged me to remain in Domstadt till I 
could obtain fresh supplies. That being settled, 
I left him to pack up my purchases, while, in a 
state of excitement and exultation that will 
perhaps be only comprehensible to a fellow- 
collector, I hurried back to my hotel to get out 
my cheque-book. I tore out a cheque without 
waiting to fill it in — indeed I did not yet know 
to whom to make it payable, but I should soon 
find that out from the man himself. 

I had no difficulty in regaining the little street 
— but what rather puzzled me was that there 
didn't seem to be any antiquity-shop in it. The 
local trade was entirely restricted to boots, 
sausages, and pictorial postcards. Evidently, 
since antiquity-shops are not in the habit of 
disappearing in so abrupt a manner, I must 
have struck the wrong street — the right one 
could not be very far off. 

And eventually, after a few failures, I found 
it, to my unspeakable relief. There was the 
board with " Antiquitaten " painted on it in red 
letters, and there was the stout, bald, bearded, 
and spectacled proprietor inside. I entered and 
told him, laughingly, that I had begun to fear 


he had vanished. He appeared puzzled. I 
produced my cheque ; and he imagined (or 
affected to imagine) that I was asking him to 
cash it. I have such a wretched memory for 
faces that 1 could not be positive he was my 
man. If he zvas, he pretended to have no re- 
collection whatever of any business transaction 
between us. He allowed me to look into his 
back-parlour, and I am bound to say it con- 
tained no treasures of any sort, packed or 

At last I staggered out, feeling that I must 
have made a mistake. The real shop must be 
farther from my hotel than I had fancied — but 
I was bound to come upon it sooner or later. 
The annoying thing was that I had absolutely 
nothing to identify it by. I had scarcely glanced 
at the window — and, if I had, I have never 
practised memorising the contents of shop- 
windows, as Houdin did. I only wish I had. 
It had the kind of articles in it that most 
antiquity-shops do exhibit — that was all / knew. 
I did not know the name of the street (does 
any one ever look at the name of any street he 
is strolling through ? — / don't) — it might be a 
"strasse," or a " gasse," or a "gasschen," or 


even " unter "-something," or " am "-something 
else, for anything I could tell. After a time I 
completely lost my bearings, and began to feel 
really worried. . . . Still I persevered. I went 
into one Antiquitaten shop after another — and 
every proprietor looked more like the man I 
wanted than the last — but I never could con- 
vince him that he was. Our interviews began 
by being ridiculous, and ended in scenes that 
almost approached violence. 

Not till long past my dinner-hour, when every 
curiosity-dealer in Domstadt had put his shutters 
up, did I crawl back to my hotel, more dead 
than alive. But I was not going to be beaten. 
I got a Domstadt directory, made out a com- 
plete list of every Alterthiimershandlung in the 
city, and marked them down with red crosses 
on a big map, and early next morning I began 
all over again. I worked through most of those 
establishments, likely or not, more than once. 
Some of the dealers were unknown at their 
registered addresses, some of their addresses 
did not seem to exist at all — but, whether I 
found them in or not, it was all the same — they 
were unanimous in repudiating all knowledge 
of me and my purchases. In fact, they ended 


by threatening to have me taken off to the 
Polizeiwache, if I would not go away quietly. 
So I gave up calling on them at last. But I 
am still in Domstadt. I haven't abandoned all 
hope, even yet. There may still be a street 
somewhere in the city which I haven't searched 
— though I doubt it. I have also inserted 
guarded advertisements in the local papers, im- 
ploring my dealer to communicate with me. So 
far, he does not seem to have come across 
any of them, and, I fear, it is hardly probable 
that he will read this statement. Still, if it 
should meet his eye, he can have his money the 
moment he delivers the goods to me at the 
Hotel Domhof, No. 707. I feel quite sure there 
has merely been some unfortunate misunder- 
standing. Meanwhile, I warn all rival collectors 
that if they should purchase any of the articles 
above described they will do so at their peril. 
Morally, if not legally, they are mine — and I 
intend to have them. 


(A Sketch in a Baronial Stronghold) 

Scene — The Courtyard of Cromlingbury Castle, 
On the left is the Gateway Tower ; on the 
right what remains of the Banqueting Hall. 
The walls facing us are neatly labelled: 
^^ Kitchen" and ^^ Armoury." In the left 
corner is a stall where refreshments and 
pictorial postcards may be obtained. In the 
centre are three long tables, placed parallel to 
one another^ with benches of an uninviting 
aspect. An elderly Female Custodian is 
discovered in a black bonnet, a blue print 
dress with white spots, a lilac apron, and 
low spirits. 

The Custodian {bitterly, to her small grand- 
son). Gettin' on for ar-pas one, Tommy, and not 
a livin' soul bin in yet — 'cep' them two cyclissin' 
gents as couldn't stop fur no refreshermints ! 
The Publick is all fur novelties nowadays, 
simingly, an' Harchiology's quite hout o' date ! 
Them rock-cakes '11 be flints by to-morrer, and 



milk turnin' soon as look at it this 'ot weather ! 
. , . Was that wheels ? {looking through window). 
A long waginette, with a young ladies' school 
inside of it ! Orter git rid o' them rock-cakes 
now — young ladies gen'ally 'as good 'elthy 
happetites, bless their 'arts ! {a bell inside the 
archway jangles rustily). They ain't got no call 
fur ter ring — the door's Jiopen wide enough ! 

\The Pupils of Pelican House, Groyne- 
borough-on-Sea, enter by twos and 
threes, followed by Mile. SiDONlE 
Duval, the resident French Governess, 
and Miss Malkin, the Principal. 

Miss Malkin {with guide-book) . . . precise 
date History is silent. On entering, the visitor 
cannot fail to be struck by the imposing 

CusT. Charge for hedjucation'l establishmints 
is threepence per 'ed, Mem, please, hordinary 
persons bein' sixpence. {As Miss Malkin pays 
the sum demanded, and enters it as an item, 
under the heading ^^ Pleasure Excursion") If your 
young ladies was requiring hany refresher- 
mints, I've some loverly rock-cakes, fresh baked 
this mornin', likewise noo milk and bother 
teetotal drinks. 

Miss M. Thank you — we have our own pro- 


visions. But we shall want a few plates and 
tumblers — oh, and a clean table-cloth, if you 
have such a thing. ( The Custodian departs with 
a sound between a sigh and a sniffs A majestic 
ruin, is it not, Mamzell ? Ah, if these grey old 
walls could but speak, what stories they might 
tell us ! 

Mlle, Duval {presuming^ like Becky Sharpy 
on her employer s imperfect familiarity with col- 
loquial French). Mon Dieu, Madame, je n'en 
sais trop — un tas de choses joliment embetantes, 
probablement ! 

Miss M. Vous avez raisong. Quel dommage, 
done, qu'ils sont — {^forgets the French for "dumb") 
qu'ils ne. peuvent pas ! 

Mlle. D. Puisque vous etes ici, Madame, ce 
sera precisement la meme chose ! 

Miss M. Oh ! beaucoup moins interessante, 
je crains ! {To herself) French people certainly 
have a knack of putting things pleasantly ! {To 
the Pupils) I think, my dears, we had better 
lunch before we explore the ruins. Be careful 
not to leave your eggshells about, and reserve 
your jam-puffs until after you have eaten the 
sandwiches. {They take their seats at the table 
on the left?) How wonderfully peaceful it is 


here — one feels so remote from all the whirl 
and stress of modern life ! 

[A prolonged " toot " without, followed by 
a succession of snorts, pants, and 
clanks ; the bell jangles, and presently 
a Motorist enters, with the condescend- 
ing air of a god from a machine, 
accompanied by two rather flamboyant 

Motorist {to Custodian). I — ah — s'pose we 
can lunch heah, what ? 

CUST. {cheering up). Cert'nly, Sir, arter payin' 
for hentrance — sixpence per 'ed is the charge, 
which it does not go ter me, but towards 
keepin' the ruings in repair. I've some nice 
'ome-made rock-cakes, Sir, also noo milk and 
hother temp'rence 

Motorist {appalled). Good Gad ! {Calling to 
so?ne one in gateway) Just bring that basket in, 
will yah. 

\^A Chauffeur staggers in with a huge 
luncheon-basket, and tmpacks a raised 
pie, cold chicken, champagne, &c., on 
the table farthest from the School. 

Oust, {to herself as she retires wounded). My 
vittles may be 'umble — but they are 'olesome ! 


First Flamboyant Female {pettishly). Why 
you should want to break the run here is be- 
yond me! I loathe taking my meals in this 
scrambly way, and being stared at like wild 
beasts, too, by a pack of saucer-eyed school- 
girls ! 

Motorist. Won't hurt you to rough it for 
once, my dear girl ! {To Chauffeur) Alphonse, 
here's a packet of food for you, and a half- 
bottle of fizz — you'll feel more at home with 
them in the tojineau, I dare say. 

[Alphonse withdraws. 

Second F. F. Champagne for a chauffeur ! 
You are lavish, I must say ! 

Motorist {apologetically). Well, look what a 
pace he's brought us along at ! Must do the 
fellah decently. Besides, between ourselves, 
it's a different brand from this, what ? 

Second F. F. So long as it doesn't spoil 
him ! . . . I call it rather jolly, lunching out 
like this in the open — more romantic than 
having it in a restaurant, anyhow. 

First F. F. Don't see where the jollity 
comes in, myself — nor yet the romance. These 
mouldy old ruins give me the hump ! What I 
like is a first-class hotel, with a band playing, 


and serviettes, and everything of the latest. 
That's my idea of comfort. Isn't there any 
jelly in that pie ? — thanks — and a little more 
pigeon while you're about it. 

Miss M. {in an undertone to Mademoiselle). 
Nouveaux riches — tr6s-mauvais tong — un 
exemple d6tressant de la luxe moderne ! {To 
the Pupils) In such surroundings, my dears, 
we should endeavour — without, Cecilia, allow- 
ing our attention to be distracted by what is 
no concern of ours ! — to call up a mental 
picture of this place as it was in the days of 
old. Try to fancy these ancient walls all 
hung with costly arras (or tapestry), those 
gaping window-frames glowing with painted 
glass, this courtyard full of men-at-arms 
and pages in rich liveries — {Tlie Pupils stop 
munching, and allow their mouths to fall slightly 
apart under the mental strain ; the bell jangles 
once more) — while through the archway, re- 
turning, perhaps, from some raiding or hawk- 
ing expedition, there enters a gay and rollicking 
party. {Here a Tripper in gorgeous raiment 
makes an impressive entrance, attended by his 
^^ young lady," also in festal attire, an elderly 
couple in more sombre garb, and a sheepish youth 


with a billycock on the back of his head). I am 
wholly at a loss to imagine, Emmeline Titten- 
sor, what I can have said to provoke such 
immoderate and unladylike mirth ! 

Tripper {an inveterate farceur, to whom medi- 
ceval diction of the Wardour Street order seems 
to have stiggested itself as the most appropriate 
medium for his facetiousness), A 'arty welcome, 
fair Uncle Josh, to thee and all thy kin 1 
Would that me ancesteral 'alls were worthier 
to receive ye ! But the 'Ouse of 'Enery Urch 
'as come down in the world, and so 'tis many 
a long year since we last 'ad the old place 
prop'ly done up ! {His party endeavour to re- 
press this exuberance by exhorting him to " beyave 
and not go acting the goat with company present;^' 
Mr. Henry Urch, however, observing an audi- 
encCy is unable to resist playing up to it, and, on 
the Custodian's appearance, strikes an attitude 
of melodramatic recognition^ But 'oom do I 
beyold ? Is it — kin it be the fythful retyner of 
me noble famuly — dear ole Dame Marj'ry, 
with 'oom, when I was but a che-ild and she 
still a sorcy centinarian, I used to ply at 
'orses in the Harmry ? Dost thou reckonise 
thy young Master, Dame? {The Custodian, 


with an expression of patient disgust^ applies for 
the entrance fees.) 'Ast thou the nerve to 
demand a tester from the last of 'is rice when 
'e Cometh to drop a tear on the 'ome of 'is 
boy'ood ? . . . Thou 'ast? Well, well — 'ere 
is a broad 'alf bull ter pay thy charges. I 
bring distinguished guesXs— {introducing his com- 
panions, whose resentment is only restrained by 
the fact that he is paying all expenses) — Herl 
and Countess Odium, the Lady Louey Ekins 
— me intended bride — ajid 'er brother, the 
Lord 'Erb. We 'ave come from far and are 
a'nungered. 'Ast thou a cold boar's 'ed in 
cut, good Dame ? 

CUST. Don't you go a-good-damin' me. If 
it's refreshermints you want, you must put up 
with rock-cakes. 

Mr. 'Enery Urch. Nay, Mistress, thou art 
spoofin' us ! Kin I not beyold a party o' 
pilgrims partakin' yonder of a ven'sin parsty, 
also fair young gyurls engaged in samplin' 'ard- 
boiled eggs ? . . . Oh ! I see — my error ! 
Har well, 'twould ha' broke me proud ole 
parint's 'art, could he ha' seen his son, in 'alls 
that was once a byword for their perfuse 
'orspitality, redooced to regale his guests on 


the lowly rock-kike ! No matter — we will e'en 
'ave a few on appro. An' now to tyble ! {He 
conducts the others with ceremony to the centre 
table?) Lady Ekins will set on my right 'and, 
Countess Odium oppersite — me noble Herl, I 
prithee unbuckle yer 'arness fer a blow-out. 
Me Lord 'Erb, do not scruple ter remove 
your 'elmet. 

YFhey seat themselves y with feeble protests 
against any further tomfoolery ; the 
motoring party affect a lofty uncon- 
sciousness ; Miss Malkin glares at the 
unfortunate Emmeline Tittensor, 
whose pocket-handkerchief is wholly 
insufficient to stifle her untimely sense 
of humour ; the other Pupils regard 
her over their jam-puffs with eyes of 
wondering disapproval. 

Miss Malkin. 11 est evidemment un peu — er 
— eleve^ Mamzell — une triste faillite de nos 
ordres inf^rieures en vacances ! {To the Pupils) 
We will, I think, finish our lunches in the 
Banqueting Hall. Emmeline, I shall have a 
word to say to you later, when you are 
sufficiently composed to realise fully the im- 
propriety of your behaviour. 

Mr. Urch {endeavouring to divide a rock-cake). 


By me 'alidonie, Dame, 'tis rightly termed ! 
Could you oblige us with the loan of a battle- 
axe ? But stay, we 'ave a noble thust on us. 
Whatto ! a stoup o' Marmsey or Kinairy wine 
withal ! What, no wines in the 'Ouse ? Send 
'ither ole Simon the Cellarer, Dame Marj'ry, 
and, an 'e perdooce not lickers in less than 
'alf a non, 'e shall be striteway 'oofed inter 
the oobiliette ! {The Pupils disperse and pur- 
chase picture postcards ; Emmeline, by this time 
071 the verge of hysterics^ seeks sanctuary in the 
ruined chapel.) Well, never mind, if he's out, 
we'll 'ave a noggin o' sparklin' cider instead, 
sime as what the party at the next tyble are 

The Motorist {to his ladies, but speaking at 
Mr. Urch). Fellah must be shockin' boundah 
not to know cidah from — ah — champagne, 
what ? 

Mr. Urch {to Uncle Josh, in a stage whisper). 
Did you 'ear that, Mr. Odium ? Acshally 
drinkin' Shempine — with their lunch ! I dessay, 
though, they don't know no better — 'aven't 
'card yet that it ain't the classy thing to 
do, nowadays. {To Custodian) Fetch some 
tlaggins of the rare ole gingerile as me noble 


Dad laid down to be broached the day I come 
of age ! [Custodian departs mystified. 

First F. F. {to the Motorist). I wish to 
goodness we'd gone to a hotel — they don't let 
horrid vulgar people in there! And they don't 
give you tough fowls to eat, either ! 

Mr. Urch {to Miss Ekins). 'Ave another 
rock-cake, Loo — you needn't be afride of it — 
it ain't as if it was some old 'en we'd 'ad to 
buy, 'cause we'd run over it ! {The Motorist 
and his ladies decide to go and see what 
Alphonse is up to.) Why, blest if we ain't 
got the place all to ourselves, now ! 

Miss Ekins {zvith some asperity). Ah, that's 
the beauty of coming out for the day with 
you, 'Enery. We do gti privacy ! 


(A Personal Explanation) 

I HAVE presented the world with but one work 
of fiction — and yet I have already come to the 
irrevocable resolution that my first novel shall 
be also my last ! Such a decision is so unusual 
that I feel the public is entitled to some explana- 
tion of the circumstances which have left me no 
other alternative. 

First let me say that my reason was not that 
Poisoned Porridge (Bellows and Bohmer, 6s.) was 
a failure in any sense of the term. Far from it. 
It was referred to as "the Novel of the Week" 
by so high an authority on literary matters as 
"Toney Tosh"; both the Clacton Courier and 
the Peebles Post gave it notices so flattering as 
to be almost fulsome, while the Giggleswick 
Gazette pronounced the opinion that " it would 
serve to while away an idle half-hour which 


could not be better employed." I have pre- 
served these and many similar press-cuttings 
in case I should be called upon to prove my 
assertions. Moreover, I know of several friends 
who inquired for the work at more than one 
circulating library and were informed that it 
was ''out." This being so, I have every reason 
for anticipating that my publisher's statement 
of accounts, when furnished, will be found a 
highly satisfactory document. 

But indeed I had never a doubt from the first 
that Poisoned Porridge would thrill the public 
as intensely to read as it thrilled me to write it. 
Each successive chapter, as it flowed like lava 
from my glowing pen, came as a further revela- 
tion of the wondrous creative force that had 
till then been latent and unsuspected within me. 
Athene is recorded in the Classical Dictionary to 
have sprung in complete armour from the head 
of Zeus, but one character after another came out 
of my brain, and all endued with such super- 
abundant vitality that I was quite incapable of 
controlling their sayings and doings, which I 
could only record with breathless admiration. 

This, I am aware, is quite a common experi- 
ence with all novelists who possess the priceless 


gift of imagination, but the sequel in my own 
case was, I venture to think, rather more ex- 

I should explain that I am a person of studious 
and literary habits, with a fixed income, and that 
I occupy a semi-detached villa residence in a 
quarter that has acquired a considerable reputa- 
tion for social exclusiveness — I allude to Upper 
Balham. It was here that Poisoned Porridge was 
composed (though the proofs, or at least the 
major part of them, were revised in temporary 
lodgings fronting the Marine Parade at Bognor, 

Well, on a certain evening shortly after the 
work was published, I was seated in my study 
at Helicon Lodge, Upper Balham, when I heard 
the front-door bell ring violently, and presently 
my housekeeper announced that a young gentle- 
man, who declined to give his name, but declared 
that he was well known to me, requested an 

I decided to receive him — not without mis- 
givings that he had already absconded with the 
coats and umbrellas ; but, when he was shown 
in, my first glance at his countenance told me 
the injustice of my suspicions. I could not be 


mistaken in that open brow, over which the 
chestnut hair fell in a crisp wave, that smooth- 
shaven face with the firmly chiselled lips and 
the square resolute chin — it was Cedric, the hero 
of Poisoned Porridge ! 

He was far too strong a character, as I realised 
at once, to be long confined within the covers 
of any book ; he had burst his bindings, and 
naturally he felt that his first visit was due to 
the author of his being. 

I gave him a cordial welcome (for I could 
not help feeling proud of the boy), and soon 
he was in a chair opposite mine, enthusiastically 
pouring out all his youthful ambitions, dreams, 
and speculations into my sympathetic ear. 

He continued to do so for several hours — 
until in fact the suspicion that he was a bit of 
an egotist (he never once mentioned Poisoned 
Porridge!) had crystallised into the conviction 
that he was no end of a bore. At last I had 
to hint that it was long past my usual hour 
lor retiring, and that I must not keep him any 
longer from his own home. It then appeared 
that he had no home of his own, and no 
resources, which was why he had come to me. 

I wished then that I had provided him in 


the novel with some regular occupation, or at 
least a competence (which would have cost me 
practically nothing), but I had avoided such 
prosaic details from motives of artistic reticence 
which I now recognise were overstrained. The 
result was that I had to put him up in the spare 
bedroom and finance him till he could find 
employment of some sort — which he never did. 
The very next day a dear old lady, with snowy 
side-curls and cheeks like a winter apple, drove 
up in a four-wheeler, which she left me to pay. 
She was Cedric's mother — and I might have 
known that she never could endure her son to 
be out of her sight for long, because I had made 
rather a point of this maternal devotion in the 
book. Obviously the only thing to be done was 
to resign my own sleeping-apartment, and put 
up with a folding-bedstead in the dressing-room. 
Even this, though, I never actually occupied — 
for that afternoon there was a fresh arrival : an 
attached old family domestic named Martha, 
who would not hear of parting from her mistress, 
wages or no wages. And, as the old lady liked 
her to be within call, Martha had to have the 
dressing-room, and I slept, fitfully, in the bath. 
In the novel, Martha had been one of my 


favourite characters, rough and uncouth, but 
with a heart of gold. She spoke a racy dialect 
which I had vaguely described as " Glodshire," 
a sort of blend of Dorset and Lincolnshire, with 
just a dash of Suffolk. I cannot say I always 
understood her meaning myself. She had a 
characteristic exclamation — "My tender kitties!" 
— which had struck me as quaintly humorous, 
in print. In actual life it soon grew slightly 
tiresome — but then 1 do think she overdid it. 

Cedric's mother, too, was addicted to smooth- 
ing his rebellious locks as he sat at her knee, 
with a hand that Time had left as smooth and 
dimpled as ever. It was pretty and touching at 
first, but the mannerism ended by getting on 
my nerves. So did Cedric's habit of addressing 
her as " Mother mine ! " — which was quite the 
correct expression, I know, and one I had, I 
believe, invented for him myself, but I didn't 
like the way he said it. 

However, I was getting fairly accustomed to 
them — when Yolande turned up, quite un- 
expectedly. Yolande, it will be remembered, 
was the heroine in Poisoned Porridge. The 
poor child was homeless ; I was responsible 
for her existence, so I could not well refuse 


to take her in — especially when Ccdric's mother 
generously offered to share my bedroom with 
her. So there we all were — quite a happy 
family, so to speak. That is, we might have 
been, if Yolande had only shown a particle 
of common-sense. She was all that was ador- 
able and enchanting, or she would have been 
no heroine of iniyie — she had a trick of raising 
a slim forefinger in arch rebuke which (for a 
while) was extremely engaging. But, with all 
her sweetness and amiability, she was a trifle 
trying at times. She had a positive genius for 
misunderstanding the simplest statements, and 
acting in consequence with an impulsiveness 
that was little less than idiotic. 

For instance, she loved Cedric fondly, and he 
was passionately devoted to her. Yet, as often 
as he sought to declare himself, she would 
perversely conclude that he was announcing 
his engagement to another, and that it was 
her bounden duty to suppress her feelings under 
a mask of indifference or disdain. In the book 
this was all right, because otherwise I could not 
have kept the lovers estranged and apart through 
the necessary number of chapters. But in real 
life I had never expected that she would write 


a blotted note of formal farewell and leave the 
house for ever about every other day ! It 
cost me a small fortune simply in rewards to 
the police for her recovery. 

Though, mind you, I blame Cedric almost as 
much. He invariably expressed himself with 
such ambiguity as absolutely to court misunder- 
standing, and his excessive modesty rendered 
it impossible for him to believe that Yolande 
could ever regard him with any sentiment but 
loathing. He would lament the fact to me, 
night after night, till I was nearly dead for 
want of sleep — but nothing / could say would 
convince him that his despair was wholly un- 
necessary. As if, forsooth, I didn't know the 
state of my own heroine's feelings ! 

But I am sorry to say that Cedric — in spite 
of his lofty brow and his strong jaw, and of 
the fact that in the novel I had invested him 
with an intellect far above the average — was, 
not to mince matters, a most particularly exas- 
perating young ass. And this, although I had 
expressly stated in the book that he had re- 
ceived a liberal Public School and University 
education — blessings I myself had never en- 
joyed ! Then he was so totally wanting in 


backbone, too, as to be utterly incapable of 
supporting himself in any walk of life. 

I thought our little party was about complete, 
but it was soon reinforced by yet another addi- 
tion in the person of old Mr. Deedes, the highly 
respectable family solicitor of Poisoned Porridge, 
with a peculiarity of wiping his spectacles and 
blowing his nose vigorously to conceal his 
emotion before pronouncing any legal opinion. 
He did not know much Law — which is hardly 
surprising, as I knew none myself — and I had, 
again from a mistaken regard for artistic re- 
ticence, purposely refrained from assigning him 
an office in any specified quarter. 

Consequently he came to me, and I could 
hardly object to allow him to use the breakfast- 
room for professional purposes, though the 
japanned tin boxes full of musty precedents 
and parchments that formed his stock-in-trade, 
so to speak, seemed a little incongruous in 
such surroundings. Have I mentioned that the 
heroine always called him " Daddy " Deedes ? 
She did. 

Still, I confess that I could not repress a cer- 
tain elation. So unique an experience as mine 
could not be other than gratifying to the self- 


esteem of any author. For — without intending, 
without even being conscious of it at the time 
— I had created a set of fictitious characters 
who were so real and actual that they were 
literally living ! 

The one drawback I could see to such pheno- 
menal mental fecundity was that they should 
all be literally living on me! 

The hour was at hand when this would seem 
but a trivial worry indeed, in comparison with 
what I was next called upon to undergo. 

Indeed, a period was approaching prior to 
which the troubles caused by my too fertile 
imagination can scarcely be said to have com- 
menced. Personally, I should date this period 
from the ill-omened hour in which Desmond 
M'Avelly first crossed my threshold. M'Avelly, 
it is perhaps unnecessary to remind the reader, 
was the villain in Poisoned Porridge, and even 
the modesty of an author cannot blind me to 
the fact that he was a devilish good villain, as 
villains go. 

He arrived in the powerful automobile with 
which for the purposes of the plot I had pro- 
vided him in the novel, and, when he threw 
off his goggled mask and fur overcoat, he 


revealed himself in irreproachable evening-dress, 
which seemed to indicate the drawing-room as 
the most appropriate place for him. It was ac- 
cordingly placed at his disposal, and there he sat 
all day, consuming innumerable cigarettes, as he 
thought out his intricate and infernal schemes. 

At meal-times, however, he joined the other 
residents at my board — for I was practically 
running a boarding-house, except that, as they 
none of them possessed any visible means of 
support, I made no profits worth mentioning. 

I was pained to observe that he completely 
got round the hero's mother, who persisted in 
believing that M'Avelly was a cruelly misunder- 
stood person, with excellent moral principles — 
indeed, the only time the dear old lady and I 
ever difitered at all seriously was once when I 
ventured to warn her that he might possibly be 
other than he seemed. Considering that I could 
not give her my grounds for distrusting him, it 
would perhaps have been wiser to have held 
my peace. As for the hero (who really was 
more of a noodle than I ever could have an- 
ticipated), he fell at once under the spell of 
M'Avelly's baleful glamour, and was absurdly 
flattered by his slightest notice. 


Not so Yolande, who, I am proud to record, 
was true to my conception of her as the embodi- 
ment of guileless British girlhood, and shrank 
instinctively from his insidious advances. He 
took his revenge by poisoning her lover's mind 
against her, as of course such a villain would. 
How he managed it exactly I do not know, 
as I was not present, but the consequence 
was that Cedric soon began to treat her 
with marked coldness, if not actual aversion. 
She quitted our roof, determined to end her 
despair by suicide, rather frequently about 
this time. 

Honest Martha could not, as she frankly 
stated, " thole " M'Avelly, who invariably adopted 
towards her a politely ironical tone that no re- 
spectable elderly domestic could be expected to 
stand. I should have felt easier in my mind 
if I could have known precisely what he was 
plotting during the long hours he spent alone 
in my drawing-room, because, in the novel, 1 
had thrown out a vague suggestion (merely for 
effect, as the plot did not turn upon it) that, 
when not otherwise engaged, he was rather 
by way of being an anarchist of sorts. It was 
by no means pleasant to think that, in his spare 


moments, he might be busy compounding bombs 
on the chiffonier ! 

So that, when a middle-aged stranger in blue 
spectacles presented himself, and, after explain- 
ing that he was a chronic invalid with a pet 
cobra (quite harmless) and a passion for play- 
ing the concertina and eating hashish, begged 
me to receive him into my household as a pay- 
ing guest, I consented with unspeakable relief. 

For of course I knew at once that he could 
be no other than my great but eccentric amateur 
detective, Rumsey Prole. Some critics have 
professed to see certain resemblances between 
this character of mine and one of Sir Conan 
Doyle's. I can only say that, if any similarity 
exists at all, it is purely accidental. Rumsey 
Prole is an entirely original creation evolved 
from my own unassisted imagination. Besides, 
his methods are so absolutely different from 
those of the rival specialist. But I hope I can 
afford to ignore these pettifogging criticisms. 

With Prole on the spot, I felt safer. I fitted 
up a box-room in the attics for him as a sort 
of snuggery, where he could play with the cobra, 
or on the concertina, and chew hashish to his 
heart's content. I frequently went up to con- 


suit him, and generally found him absorbed in 
reading Euclid, which he maintained was more 
amusing and better illustrated than most of the 
popular magazines. I regret to say, however, 
that he seemed to attach but little importance 
to my suspicions of M'Avelly, and, in short, 
behaved with a brusquerie which — had I known 
him less well — I might have mistaken for offen- 
sive rudeness. But it was a great comfort to 
have him about. That massive mind of his 
was, I knew, working all — or most of — the time, 
and the ease with which he had unravelled the 
rather complicated mystery of Poisoned Porridge 
seemed a guarantee that he would be fully equal 
to checkmating any fresh devilries M'Avelly 
might attempt. 

How it happened I can't explain — perhaps 
Prole took a little too much hashish — but 
M'Avelly contrived to pull off his crime — what- 
ever it was, for I never ascertained its precise 
character. I gathered, however, from Inspector 
Chugg (another creation of mine whom, for 
reasons of my own, I had not thought fit to 
invest with any excessive brilliancy) that it was 
something in the nature of Common Barratry 
— and a hanging matter. With truly diabolical 


cunning, M'Avelly had contrived to throw sus- 
picion on the innocent and unfortunate Cedric, 
who, believing, though on insufficient grounds, 
that Yolande was the culprit, nobly took the 
blame on himself — which was only what I 
should have anticipated from him. He had 
done much the same thing before in the book. 
Naturally Yolande misunderstood his motive, 
and, being a thoroughly nice-minded girl, re- 
coiled from a lover who had openly confessed 
himself a Common Barrator. But I was rather 
surprised when Inspector Chugg arrested them 
both, and, after subjecting them to a searching 
cross-examination, warned them that whatever 
they had said would be taken down and used 
in evidence against them at their trial. 

In fact, I was about to make an indignant 
protest, when, to my unfeigned delight, Rumsey 
Prole, having emptied his box of hashish, 
finished the first book of Euclid, and charmed 
the cobra into a state of coma by playing all 
the tunes he knew on the concertina, came 
down to the rescue. 

This marvellous man, by a series of ingenious 
deductions from cigarette- ashes, tea-leaves, a 
disused tram-car ticket, a marked farthing, and 


samples of fluff, all of which his trained eye 
had detected on the carpet, demonstrated be- 
yond all possibility of doubt that the actual 
culprit was no other than myself ! 

I was positively thunderstruck ; for, up to 
that juncture, I could have sworn that I was 
innocent, and it was a bitter moment when my 
own Cedric and Yolande, their faith in one 
another now completely restored, avowed their 
conviction of my guilt, adjuring me in moving 
terms not to suffer this dark stain to blight 
their young lives, but to confess all, and hope 
for the mercy of heaven ! I adjured them not 
to be a couple of young idiots. Still, I could 
not help recognising that, unless the world at 
large were more amenable to reason, I was 
in rather a tight place. In fact, I saw the 
gallows plainly looming before me ! 

Fortunately, at the eleventh hour, a deliverer 
came forward in the homely person of good 
old Martha, who remembered by the merest 
chance that there were certain documents in a 
brass-bound desk belonging to her mistress 
which might possibly throw some light on the 
subject. These were produced and submitted 
to Mr. Deedes, the family solicitor, who perused 


them anxiously, spectacles on nose, during a 
prolonged and most dramatic silence. At last 
he wiped his spectacles, blew his nose with 
more than usual resonance, and, in accents 
husky with emotion, pronounced that, so far 
as he had been able to interpret the papers, 
they not only proved my entire innocence and 
incriminated M'Avelly (whom I had suspected 
from the first), but also established Cedric's 
claim to a dormant peerage, and identified 
Yolande as the long-sought heiress of a South 
African millionaire, who had lately died intes- 
tate after bequeathing her ten thousand a year 
and a palatial mansion in Park Lane ! 

Altogether dear old Deedes trumpeted to some 
purpose on that occasion ! Even I should never 
have thought of such a way out of the labyrinth 
in which we were all so inextricably entangled. 
But it only shows how marvellously an author's 
characters may be capable of developing if 
they are only started with a strong enough 
individuality ! 

There is little more to relate. M'Avelly, hum- 
ming a careless snatch and muttering horrible 
imprecations under his breath, had already 
evaded the strong arm of the law by saunter- 


ing out of the house — and out of our lives, for 
ever! Rumsey Prole wrung my hand warmly, 
with the remark that the result was in exact 
accordance with all his calculations — after which 
he packed up his cobra and concertina, and left 
to lay in a fresh supply of hashish before pro- 
ceeding to investigate another case that demanded 
his assistance. 

Cedric and his mother, with Yolande and the 
faithful Martha, departed to claim the dormant 
peerage and occupy the palace in Park Lane. 
I made no attempt to detain them. Only good 
old Mr. Deedes was left on my hands, and, as 
I could not stand his practising as a solicitor 
any longer in my breakfast-room, I took an 
office for him in Bedford Row, where he can 
wipe his spectacles and blow his nose unseen 
and unheard — for I can hardly believe that any 
sane client will ever consult him professionally. 
I know / shan't. 

I think I have now said enough to enable 
the gentle reader to understand how and why 
it is that, in spite, or perhaps I should say 
because, of the unprecedented success that has 
attended my first humble effort in fiction, I am 
resolved that it must never be repeated. 


Indeed, what I have gone through ah-eady 
has upset me so severely that my doctor has 
ordered me to take a complete rest, and I am 
just now staying (though only temporarily) at 
a sanatorium. 

The medical superintendent here is inclined 
— as I can see plainly, however he may en- 
deavour to disguise it — to regard my strange 
experiences as more or less imaginary. 

However, when he sees them in print, I think 
that even he will be convinced that so plain 
and unexaggerated a statement could hardly 
proceed from a disordered fancy. But if he 
isn't, it will make no difference to me. 


(A Sketch from a well-known Watering-place^ 

The paj'ty of Sightseers, having paid their respec- 
tive sixpences and passed the turnstile, find 
themselves in a penitential chamber^ vaulted 
atid furnished with shallow and columned 
alcoves y in one of which is displayed a placard 
inscribed " Waltz." They seat themselves on a 
row of kitchen chairs atid converse in subdued 
tones as they await the official guide, who 
presently appears bearing a large flat sconce full 
of flaring candle-ends. 

Guide {with the customary contempt for stops, 
and a more than Early- Victorian prodigality in the 
matter of aspirates^. Ladies and gentlemen the 
hapartment you are now in it is the ballroom 
it has not been built up nothing of the kind 
what you see 'ere bein' hall 'ollered hout of 
the solid sandstone by the discoverer of these 
caves you will now kindly foller me . . . [he 
leads the party down a long corridor with recesses 



on both sides, in which more candle-ends are flicker- 
ing). This passage forms the new hentrance to 
the caves the hideer was taken hoff of the Cata- 
combs of Rome as you may heasily perceive 
from the niches and pillars though not of so 
hancient a period not 'aving been constructed 
no longer than sixty-two years. We now henter 
the first of these 'ighly hinteresting caves that 
haperture in front of you was the hold entrance 
has may heasily be seen by the steps cut in the 
rock which it is supposed that they were done 
by the horig'nal hoccupants — {here one of the 
party commits himself to a statement that the 
interior is ^'picturesque," while it reminds another 
of the " Forty Thieves "). The haperture was 
haccidently discovered hover sixty years ago 
by a gardener of the name of Golding while 
hengaged in digging the soil fell through the 
'ole thereby reveahng the hexistence of the 
caves he then hobtained leave to make hexca- 
vations sell the sand for his hown benefit and 
hexhibit the caves for a term of years — {A pon- 
derous member of the party expresses an opinioti 
that the caves must be a ''very valuable asset" 
which^ remembering the sixpence for admission, 
nobody seems prepared to dispute^. H eleven years 


he was in hexecuting the work dying six months 
hafter completion so that he did not hve long 
to henjoy the fruits of his hindustry though 
his widow and children survived to in'erit them 
till quite recently. Now some of you on be- 
'olding the haperture may hask [here he fixes 
upon the most vacuous Sightseer, whose mouth falls 
open at once), "Why 'ave a second hentrance at 
all — why not come in by this one ?" {the V. S., 
pulling himself together, is understood to murmur 
something about an ^^ emergency exitT) I will tell 
you the reason for why the howners of the 
surface refused to allow haccess hover their 
land thus it consequently became necessary to 
construct the passage by which hentrance is 
now hobtained. 

\At this a satirical Sightseer whispers to 
his Young Lady that the Guide seems 
^^ crule 'ard on pore ole letter haitch" — 
to which she signifies assent by a de- 
lighted giggle. 

The colossal statue above the harch if you 
will kindly stand a little back where 1 now am 
is a correck representation of the Reverend 
Mr. Blott Mr. Golding's minister at that period 
bein' cut out by his own 'ands from the solid 


stone without assistance of hany kind except two 
day labourers to carry away the sand which you 
will all agree with me that for a gardener Mr. 
Golding must have been a very clever man. 
{The party inspect the Rev. Mr. Blott's legs^ which 
are all of him that is visible by cafidlelight, with the 
silent reverence due to High A rt, before passing to 
the next cave?) Some will tell you that these 
caves they were all done by smugglers now 
that is not a very probable the'ry it would 
require consid'rable time and labour to con- 
struct caves of this size and they would need 
all their time for smuggling purposes though 
hundoubtedly these caves they were used by 
smugglers halso their hobject bein' to dispose 
of their goods as quickly as possible they would 
not require so much room for storage therefore 
far the most probable the'ry is that they were 
due to the Herly Christians who tied 'ere to 
havoid persecution hunder the hancient Romans 
and Hanglo-Saxons. Hon the hupper part of 
this wall you will hobserve a large bust — {Jiere 
an elderly lady inquires whether it is supposed to 
be the likeness of one of the Early Christians^ — 
from the fact that it is represented with hepau- 
lettes on both shoulders the general opinion 


is that it 'as not come down from hany very 
remote period and is certainly not hantique it 
is far more likely to be a portrait of one of 
the smugglers but 'oo it is we cannot say not 
possessing no records of hany kind hall we do 
know is that smugglers were in the 'abit of 
using these caves though we 'ave no hactual 
proof that they did so. 

Our present King ladies and gentlemen when 
he visited these caves some years ago made a 
re-mark bein' Prince of Wales at the time. The 
re-mark he made was that they would make a 
very good wine-cellar which I think they would 
do so myself. Through this 'ole 'ere hunder 
which I shall presently hask you to follow me 
the present King and Queen passed on the 
hoccasion the 'ole bein' then of far smaller 
dimensions than it now is their Majesties were 
compelled to crawl through it on all fours the 
widenin' of the 'ole bein' hintirely caused by 
friction from boots below and clothes above 
you will please to lower your 'eds to havoid 
crushing your 'ats. . . . 

\T he party follow him through the hole, with 
the jokes and exclamations appropriate 
to the situation. 


Hon this wall near which I am now standing 
you will notice one of our most hinteresting 
monuments a carving representing the hexact 
shape of a Roman hurn it has been suggested 
that it may be the tomb of some Herly Christian 
but a moment's reflection will convince you — 
{here lie again fixes the vacuous Sightseer, who 
looks as convinced as possible on such short notice) — 
that this hidea cannot be the correct one and I 
will tell you for why honly two methods of 
sepulchre bein' practised by the Herly Chris- 
tians one cremation the bother hurn-burial now 
it is hobvious that this hurn carved as it is on 
the surface of the solid stone cannot possibly 
contain yuman hashes but is merely a memorial 
to '00m it is not known the hinscriptions 
on the walls around they are hall modern 
bein' done by visitors. . . . 

[They enter the next cave. 

'Ere you will hobserve faults {the party assume 
a critical air) due to volcanic haction these caves 
'aving been cast up many thousand years ago 
from the hocean bed in proof of which I will 
draw your attention to the roof on which you 
can plainly perceive ripple-marks hexactly re- 
sembling those left on the sand at low tide 


these ripple-marks bein' hupside down will give 
you some hidea of the violence of the heruption 
it is not my hown opinion I am now giving 
you but that of leading scientists who have 
hexamined them. Kindly step carefully into 
the next cave the slope of the floor bein' some- 
what habrupt. . . . The 'alf-length figure on 
the wall 'ere is supposed to be the work of 
the Herly Christians from the full sleeves bein' 
hevidently a bishop. 

Hoppersite is a hancient bath when dis- 
covered the bottom was coated hover with 
clay happarently to 'inder the water from 
hescaping it has been suggested that it was 
more probably h intended to contain a supply 
of drinkin' water now that is not a bad sug- 
gestion though I think I can show that it is 
hincorrect for it would soon become stargnant 
and a hample supply could be carried in in 
skin and barrels therefore it is far more likely 
that it was used as a babtisimal fount by the 
Herly Christians who would merely 'ave to 
make a 'ole in the clay to let the water run 
off and be habsorbed by the sand nor would 
it be necessary to fill it very full heighteen 
hinches bein' sufficient for total himmersion . . . 


we next henter the largest cave of hall it is 
hestimated to contain has many as fifteen 
thousand men standing hupright a pretty big 
harmy you will agree though howing to the 
habsence of ventilation their hair would soon 
become too foul to support life besides which 
the hexits being well known at present it would 
be uselsss as a niding place for hany army. 
We are now one 'undred and forty-live feet 
below the surface not that the floor has de- 
scended but because of the helcvation of the 
'ill as can be proved by our bein' hexactly 
oppersite St. Clement's Terrace hif the most 
violent thunderstorm was takin' place over'ed 
you would not be aware of it down 'ere 
which rendered it a safe 'iding place for the 
Herly Christians who could make what noise 
they liked with no fear of being hover'eard 
— {the party seem to appreciate the . value of this 
Christian privilege^ — the honly light is hobtained 
from the haperture in the first cave therefore 
at sunset this place is in total darkness to give 
you some ideer what that darkness is I will 
now remove the light {which he proceeds to do). 
Hany one left be'ind 'ere for a night would 
soon go out of his mind though no such 


event has 'appened since these caves were first 
hopened bein' carefully searched hevery night 
the last thing this passage conducts us back 
to the ballroom where we started it is 'ighly 
patronised during the season by parties who 
are fond of a novelty all who care to dance 
bein' free to do so which brings us to the 
end of our journey ladies and gentlemen are 
kindly requested not to forget the guide we 
'ave no regler salary being hintirely dependent 
on such gratooities we may receive thank you 
very much. 

\The Party bestow tips as they file out, with 

a feeling that their minds have been 



If I had had my way we should not have had a 
children's party at all this year. As I said to 
Marmaduke, " Modern children, especially in 
such social circles as we move in, expect more 
and more nowadays, and I really can't under- 
take to do things on the same scale as the 
Guldenschweins, or the McMammons, or the 
Sploscheimers. And when you're always say- 
ing things haven't gone so well in the City 
lately 1 " 

Marmaduke said he didn't like the idea of 
our children accepting their young friends' 
hospitalities without making any return, but, 
as I told him, our Torquil and Ermyngarde 
are such popular children people are only too 
delighted to have them. As for the disap- 
pointment to our chicks, they had both ex- 
pressed their perfect willingness to accept five 

shillings apiece instead of having a party — 



which of course would come incalculably 

But he said things hadn't come to such a 
pass that he couldn't afford to give a children's 
party, and do the thing in style, too. He 
hinted that this was good policy from a business 
point of view. I represented that it was utterly 
out of the question for me to do the thing as 
it should be done on my housekeeping allow- 
ance, and he gave me an extra cheque, which 
he said ought to cover not only a first-class 
sit-down tea and supper, but a really refined 
and expensive entertainment from Harrod's or 
Whiteley's into the bargain. 

I might have managed to make it do, I dare 
say, if only I hadn't had such frightfully bad 
luck at bridge about that time that I was posi- 
tively compelled to economise wherever possible. 

So, when my maid Melanie happened to men- 
tion a young man of her acquaintance who was 
anxious to obtain engagements at parties as a 
conjurer, and who (according to her) was quite 
extraordinarily talented, I told her to see if 
she could arrange with him to come to me 
and give an hour and a half's performance for 
a guinea, this sum to include his cab-fares. I 


was careful to add this, because most enter- 
tainers make an extra charge for cab-fares, and 
they all seem to live a long way outside the 
radius. Melanie was to point out that, as at 
my house he would have an opportunity of 
exhibiting before highly influential and wealthy 
people like the McMammons, the Sploscheimers, 
the Guldenschweins, and others, he might find 
it to his advantage to make a considerable re- 
duction in his usual terms. 

Later Melanie reported that she had so 
strongly impressed this upon him that he had 
declared his willingness to perform for me 
gratis, just for the sake of the introduction, 
and Melanie added that he had offered to con- 
clude by distributing a few small gifts, pro- 
vided I saw no objection. I said if he liked 
to go to the expense he was of course at per- 
fect liberty to do so, so long as he remembered 
that such presents should be of a certain value 
if they were to give pleasure to children in such 
a set as ours. 

Melanie assured me he quite understood, and 
that it would be all right, so I left it entirely 
to her — rather against my own instincts, for 
she was a girl I never could take to, somehow 


— it was always most unpleasant to meet her 
eyes in the looking-glass while she was brushing 
my hair of an evening. Still she was clever 
and useful in many ways, and I quite thought 
I could depend on her in a matter of this sort. 

We had next to no refusals, and Marmaduke 
not only came home early from the City him- 
self that evening, but actually persuaded such 
busy people as Mr. Sploscheimer, Mr. McMam- 
mon, and Mr. Guldenschwein to look in while 
their respected offspring were still seated at the 

It was a thrilling thought, as one of our 
grown-up guests remarked to me at the time, 
that every one of those tiny tots was a potential 
little fifty-thousand-pounder at the very least, 
always supposing, of course, that their dear 
parents met with no serious financial reverses 
before they reached maturity. 

The little Guldenschweins are not what I call 
prettily-behaved children at table, and I am sure 
they had enough to eat of one sort and another, 
even if I did not think lit to provide quite 
enough hot tea-cake and crumpets to please 

The other children made no complaints — 


except that the young Sploscheimers declared the 
crackers were swindles and not worth pulling, 
as they contained no jewellery ; but when, on 
Ermyngarde's announcing proudly that there 
was going to be a conjurer upstairs after tea, 
one of the little McMammons declared he was 
sick of conjurers, and at their party they were 
going to have a Magic Kettle and a Ballet from 
the Empire, I confess I began to have mis- 
givings about the entertainment I had provided. 

For I really knew nothing about the man 
— not even his name. I had only Melanie's 
word for his being able to conjure at all, and 
I shuddered when I reflected that he might 
actually be capable of coming without a dress 
suit on. 

It is not surprising that when at length every 
child admitted having reached the stage of 
repletion, and the butler announced that the 
conjurer had arrived and was awaiting us in 
the drawing-room, I led the way upstairs with 
a sinking heart, and a fervent wish that I had 
not gone out of my way to do a kindness to 
this obscure /n?/'^^^' of Melanie's. 

Many a time did I repeat that wish before that 
awful evening was over ! 


When we got upstairs, there was the conjurer, 
waiting for us under the arch between the two 
drawing-rooms. He had put on a dress suit, 
and was, for a person in that position, quite 
gentlemanly -looking, though pale. He com- 
menced his performance with a few simple 
card-tricks — but either it was too soon after 
tea, or the children were not impressed by an 
entertainer who was not in fancy costume and 
had none of the usual gilded apparatus — for 
the poor little things made no attempt to con- 
ceal their boredom. 

And my Ermyngarde, who is rather a proud 
child, was naturally offended by his taking such 
a liberty as to extract eggs and billiard-balls 
from her hair before all her young friends. 
Though I must say our Torquil, who is his 
dear father's own boy for smartness, made the 
conjurer look supremely ridiculous by not only 
denying that he was really producing the yards 
and yards of coloured paper which were ap- 
parently being reeled out of his little inside, 
but by informing everybody (and correctly, 
too !) how the trick was done. 

Altogether the entertainment seemed to be 
falling so flat that I felt obliged to tell Mrs. 


Gildingham that I could not understand it, as 
the man had been very highly recommended to 
me, and that I hoped he would show us some- 
thing really clever and amusing by-and-by. He 
must have overheard (as I certainly intended 
him to do), and it seemed to put him on his 
mettle, for he said that for his next experiment 
he should require the assistance of a grown-up, 
and singled out Mr. Gildingham, who, with a 
condescension remarkable indeed in a company 
promoter of his experience, consented to oblige 

I could see Mr. G.'s dignity was a little ruffled 
at the mere suggestion that he might be a con- 
federate, and he was as startled as anybody 
when something alive and kicking was taken 
out of his double-breasted waistcoat. 

The conjurer called it a rabbit — but it was 
unlike any breed of rabbits that I am acquainted 
with, having a much longer tail for one thing, 
besides being a bright scarlet, and covered all 
over with little scales. He rubbed the beast 
into two — a red and a green one — before our 
eyes, and they shot up the curtains and dis- 
appeared behind the gilt cornice. 

Nobody made any comment, though I could 


see several people were considerably impressed. 
As for Mr. Gildingham, he slipped quietly down- 
stairs, and, so I afterwards heard, asked the 
butler for a whisky-and-soda before leaving the 
house. Then the conjurer suddenly called out 
little Moritz Rosenstern, and asked him if he 
had a headache, which the child denied. But 
we could all hear his little head ticking away 
like a tape machine, and presently we saw a 
stream of tape actually flowing from his left 
ear. His father, from sheer force of habit, I 
suppose, rushed to read off the message. What 
it was I cannot say, as we could not find the 
tape afterwards, but Mr. Rosenstern, with a 
smothered exclamation, which I only trust the 
children did not catch, rushed from the room, 
and presently we heard a hansom clattering off 
in a frantic hurry. Moritz told Torquil next 
day that, when he got home that evening, he 
was severely spanked by his papa, which seems 
rather unreasonable. 

I really forget what trick came next, but I 
think it was the production of an immense glass 
bowl of water from Mr. Sploscheimer's coat- 
tail pocket. When this trick is done with gold- 
fish it is quite pretty, but there was hardly time 


to notice what was in the water in this case, as 
Mr. Sploscheimer in his nervousness upset the 
bowl, and the thing inside got away. Mrs. 
McMammon declared that it bit her on the 
ankle, which I do not believe. She was always 
a fanciful, hysterical woman, and if it was a 
snake at all I am convinced it was a perfectly 
harmless one. 

Still, though the man was certainly a cleverer 
conjurer than had at first appeared, and the 
juveniles began to look with more approval 
on his efforts to amuse them, none of the older 
people seemed to be really enjoying themselves. 
However, we all applauded, to avoid hurting 
his feelings, and, even when he gave a ventrilo- 
quial exhibition with an excessively rude little 
wooden puppet out of a bag, which made re- 
marks on every grown-up present that were so 
personal as to be almost libellous, they managed 
to laugh good-humouredly, though I could see 
that I and Marmaduke were suspected of having 
furnished the particulars. 

There is no doubt that, in persuading Mr. 
Guldenschwein, much against his wishes, to be 
hidden for a second or so under an embroidered 
piano-cover, and then revealing him as a large 


and very pink pig, the conjurer went much too 
far — though I am bound to admit that the 
children, and especially the little Gulden- 
schweins, were delighted. For myself, I was 
most distressed that such a thing should have 
happened in my house, and to Mr. Gulden- 
schwein of all people ! 

At the same time, I do think he might have 
shown a little more of what I call bonhomie 
about it, especially as the effects of the illusion 
(or transformation, or whatever it was) wore 
off very soon, and indeed were hardly notice- 
able by supper-time. But some people are 
born without the sense of humour ! 

I should have been thankful myself, as I know 
a good many people were, when the tiresome 
man announced the last item on his programme, 
if only it hadn't been a Distribution of Gifts to 
all the children from what he called "the In- 
exhaustible Electrolier." For one thing, I was 
anxious about the chandelier (which is coloured 
Venetian glass and fragile), and, for another, 1 
had the gravest doubts as to what he might 
choose to consider suitable presents for those 
innocent mites. 

How he contrived that a series of white-paper 


parcels neatly tied up in ribbon — blue for boys, 
and pink for girls — should appear to drop, one 
by one, into a hat from the centre of the 
chandelier is more than I can explain — but it 
was a relief to find that the contents gave satis- 
faction not only to the children but to their 
parents also. 

At least, it was a relief till I discovered that 
each of the pink packets contained one of the 
trinkets which only left my jewel-case on very 
special occasions, while every boy received an 
Oriental curio in carved jade or ivory or crystal, 
from a collection which Marmaduke had picked 
up privately for a mere trifle and hoped to dis- 
pose of at Christie's some day at an immense 
profit. And, as the little wretches were quite 
aware of the value of the objects, it would have 
been useless to try and reclaim them. Under 
all the circumstances, the only thing to do was 
to encourage the parents in their impression that 
our little surprise had been carefully thought 
out beforehand. So it really was hard to bear 
when I found out afterwards, from indirect 
sources, that it was considered to be a piece 
of vulgar ostentation on our part ! 

I managed to persuade Torquil and Ermyn- 


garde to leave their own parcels with me un- 
opened — hoping to get back something at all 
events — but there was absolutely nothing inside 
either packet, though I am afraid both the 
children still suspect their mother of being a 

If I had had an opportunity I should certainly 
have told that conjuring person in very plain 
terms what I thought of his performance, but 
by the time I was sufficiently composed to do 
so the man had gone. I sent for Melanie, fully 
intending to discharge her on the spot, but was 
informed that she had discharged herself some 
time previously — which shows that she was 
every bit as bad as the man. 

Who he was, or why he should have chosen 
to play such pointless and ungentlemanly pranks 
on jis is a perfect mystery to me, but I cannot 
for a moment admit that there was anything in 
the least supernatural about the affair. We are 
hardly, I should hope, the kind of people for a 
visitation of that description. Whatever we saw, 
(or rather imagified we saw) that evening, I am 
positive can be quite satisfactorily put down to 
hypnotism, or something of that sort. 

All the same the consequences have been most 


unfortunate. Marmaduke is not nearly so inti- 
mate with Mr. Guldenschwein, Mr. Sploscheimer, 
and Mr. McMammon, or indeed any of his rich 
City friends, as he used to be, — and of course 
he puts all the blame on me! And for some 
days after the party there were troubles in the 
nursery too, owing to nurse's finding such 
quantities of ivorine billiard-balls and break- 
fast eggs in darling Ermyngarde's hair, while 
poor little Torquil would spout streams of 
coloured shavings by the hour together, which 
was very troublesome for everybody, though I 
am thankful to say the doctor prescribed some 
medicine which effectually prevented any return 
of the symptoms. 

I think 1 am a little run down myself, and 
I have had to give up my ** At Home " day. I 
should be sorry to miss Mrs. McMammon, Mrs. 
Sploscheimer, or Mrs. Guldenschwein, and all 
my other friends, if they should happen to call 
— but sitting alone in the drawing-room waiting 
for them was more than I could endure. It was 
nothing but nerves, I know — but I simply could 
not keep my eyes off the cornices. 


(A Study of Elderly Children) 

Scene — The Garden of a picturesque old Country 
Inn zvithin easy distance from London. A round 
the Bowling Green are rustic arbours and 
sheds. In the largest of these a party of ten 
or eleven middle-aged gentlemen of intensely 
serious aspect are seated at a long table, smok- 
ing cigars and drinking spirits and water. 
It is sojnewhat late in the afternoon. Sud- 
denly the oldest and most solemn of the 
party rises and raps the table zvith an air 
of authority natu7'al to one who occupies the 
position of a Grand Prime Penguiji. 

The Grand Prime Penguin. I rise, brother 
Penguins — order, please. I must ask Penguin 
Gogarty to reserve the conclusion of the anec- 
dote, or whatever it is he is relating to Penguin 

Titterton, until the business before us has been 



disposed of. (Penguins GOGARTY and Titter- 
ton instantly assume a portentous gravity^ I 
will first read one or two communications 
received from brother Penguins who have 
been unavoidably prevented from being present 
at our proceedings this afternoon. Penguin 
Shuffery writes : " My dear Grand Prime, your 
brother Penguin is awfully sick at being un- 
able to support his Prime on such an occasion 
— but he knows how it is." {Here the other 
Penguins sympathetically murmur, " Squawk, 
squawk ! " which is apparently the prescribed 
form of approval.) I have also a wire from 
Penguin Tootell : " Regret impossible attend. 
Just starting for honeymoon. Needless say 
am with you in spirit. May Heaven guide 
your counsels ! Yours in links of Penguin- 
ship, Tootell." [Renewed squawks.) Other 
Penguins have been communicated with, but 
have not written to explain their non-appear- 
ance. {Here several Penguins exclaim, ** Quonk- 
quonk-quonk I " — which seems to be Penguinese 
for ^^ Shame I") Before, as your retiring Grand 
Prime, I vacate the rock, I will call on Recorder 


Penguin Mincoff to read the agenda. . . . {They 
are read by a nervous Penguin in a straw hat, 
and appear to consist in electing a new " Grand 
Prime " and " Vice-Penguin " /or the coming 
year?) Voting-papers will be handed round. 
There are three candidates for the rock — viz. 
Penguins Stickney, Ikin, and Cronkeyshaw. 
I need not remind you of the fact that 
Penguin Stickney is one of our oldest and 
most respected Penguins, and has already dis- 
charged the duties of Vice-Penguin with singular 
tact and ability. 

Penguin Cronkeyshaw. I should just like 
to ask this. If we're all asked to pledge our- 
selves beforehand, what becomes of the secrecy 
of the ballot ? 

The Grand Prime {ivith dignity). I can only 
answer that if Penguin Cronkeyshaw insists on 
impugning my conduct on this rock, I shall 
treat it as a matter of confidence and offer 
myself for re-election. 

Penguin Cronkeyshaw. In that case, Mr. 
Grand Prime, I beg to withdraw my question, 
and merely remark that I shall hold myself per- 


sonally free to vote for any candidate I please, 
be he the youngest Penguin on the list ! 

[77^1? Penguins fill up their papers in 
solemn silence, fold them, and deposit 
them in Recorder-Penguin Mincoff's 
straw hat, which is then handed to the 
Grand Prime. 

The Grand Prime {counting the votes). Pen- 
guin Stickney, 4 ; Penguin Ikin, 4 ; Penguin 
Cronkeyshaw, i. Owing to the chivalry of 
Penguins Stickney and Ikin in each voting 
for the other — {commendatory squawks from all 
but Penguin Cronkeyshaw) — the election has 
resulted in a tie. I shall therefore avail myself 
of the privilege of this rock, and give a casting 
vote to Penguin Stickney, whom I declare to 
be duly elected. 

\^Squawks — and a solitary quonk from 
Penguin Cronkeyshaw ; Penguin 
Stickney then takes the rock as the 
new Grand Prime. 

Grand Prime Penguin Stickney. Brother 
Penguins, my heart is too full adequately to 
thank you for the very great honour you have 
just conferred upon me by electing me as 


your Grand Prime. I can only say that I 
will do my best to prove myself worthy of 
your confidence during my occupation of this 
rock, though I fear I can never hope to fill 
it as ably and — er — energetically as the dis- 
tinguished and highly popular Penguin who 
has preceded me. {Squawks ; a new Vice- 
Penguin is next elected tvith similar formalities^ 
I will now call upon any Penguin who has a 
motion to bring forward to do so as briefly 
as possible, since our time is getting short. 

A Penguin in a Homburg Hat. I — ah — 
beg to propose that, for all future meetings, 
every Penguin should adopt a uniform head- 
covering. I would suggest a straw, with a 
distinctive ribbon of salmon, purple, and green, 
in alternate layers. By this means, Penguins 
would be more easily enabled to recognise 
one another on a railway platform than is the 
case under present conditions. [Squawks.) 

Penguin Cronkeyshaw {whose temper has 
distinctly not improved during the proceedings). 
I object to Penguin Jeffcock's proposal in toto. 
Are Penguins in a free country like England 
to submit to be curtailed and hampered in 
their choice of hats ? Why, I ask, why should 


I be compelled to wear a hat that I consider 
eminently unsuitable to myself personally ? I 
no longer — as some here to-day have con- 
sidered it humorous to remind me more than 
once — possess a head of hair like some Pen- 
guins. If Penguin Jeffcock is determined to 
force a form of head-gear upon me which, 
viewed from behind, would infallibly render 
my appearance more or less ridiculous, I shall 
have no alternative but to send in my resigna- 
tion and cease henceforth to be a Penguin. 
I will not make a public exhibition of myself 
in an infernal straw hat with a tomfool ribbon 
to please any Penguin alive ! 

Penguin Jeffcock {diplomatically). I am sure 
that I voice the general sentiment when I say 
that I should be sorry indeed to press any 
motion which would tend to deprive us of 
Penguin Cronkeyshaw's genial presence. For 
the moment I had forgotten the — ah — pecu- 
liarity to which he has so feelingly referred. 
1 now beg to amend my original proposal by 
substituting for the straw hat and ribbon a 
distinctive badge which each Penguin will 
wear in his buttonhole on occasions like the 
present. It might be in enamel, and represent 


a Penguin rampant, which could be executed 
in artistic colours for a comparative trifle. 

Penguin Cronkeyshaw. I object to the 
badge as, if possible, even more preposterous 
than the straw ! It may be all very well for 
Penguin Jeifcock to talk of the expense as a 
trifle. Some Penguins may not have managed 
to feather their nest as he has. I know / 
haven't. And speaking as a Penguin, I do 
not see why I should be called on to put 
my hand in my pocket for a mere superfluity. 
I maintain that paying my railway fare and 
my share of the bill — which, considering it 
was a cold lunch, I must say was nothing 
less than downright extortion — is as much as 
can reasonably be expected from a Penguin 
in my position. 

Grand Prime Penguin Stickney. I will 
now put Penguin Jeffcock's amended motion 
to a show of pinions. {Every Penguin raises 
his right hand, except Penguin CRONKEYSHAW, 
who strenuously uplifts his left.) The proposal 
is carried by eight pinions to one. {Loud 
squawks.) I therefore authorise Penguin Jeff- 
cock to obtain estimates for executing the 


badges and to report accordingly. Has any 
other Penguin a motion to bring ? 

Penguin Cronkeyshaw {quivering with 
wrath). I have, Mr. Grand Prime ! I beg to 
move that this Honourable Society of Pen- 
guins be immediately dissolved and re-con- 
stituted without any titles of office, rules, 
regulations, or formalities whatsoever ! 

[^Sensation, and loud cries of " Quonk-quonk- 
quonk ! " 

The Grand Prime Penguin. I consider 
that I should be untrue to the traditions of 
this rock if I were to put such a revolutionary 
proposal as that before an assembly of Pen- 
guins — and I therefore decline to do so. 
{Squawks from all, except Penguin CRONKEY- 
SHAW, who rises and retires into an adjoining 
arbour, where he sits glowering and blaspheming 
furiously under his breath.^ Brother Penguins, 
we must all regret that the harmony of our 
meeting should have been marred by this 
little contretemps — however, we all know Pen- 
guin Cronkeyshaw — he has threatened to resign 
on many previous occasions, but has always 
come round during the return journey. In 
conclusion, I will call upon you to drink the 


usual toast. " The Penguins — and may they 
long flap together!" {The toast is drunk with 
enthusiastic squawks.) And now I think we 
had better be making a move for the station. 
\^The company break up and stroll off 
together ift twos and threes ; Penguin 
Croxkeyshaw sulks in his arbour 
until the last member of the Society 
has left the garden, when he hurries 
after them — to convey y we are per- 
mitted to hope, the comforting intelli- 
gence that, in spite of all that has 
occurred, he has decided to remain a 
Penguin till further notice. 


(A Story of the Super-normal) 

Parmenas Filmer awoke in the bedroom of 
his seaside lodgings at Weymouth. 

From the bed in which he lay the sea was 
usually visible, but on this particular August 
morning it was shrouded by a dense white veil. 

All through the night his sleep had been dis- 
turbed by the prolonged wail of distant sirens; 
there must have been a heavy fog out at sea, 
and instinctively his thoughts flew to Isolde Le 
Vazon, who was probably at that very moment 
preparing to land on her native Guernsey, 
where — unless the unexpected happened — she 
would be henceforth as far removed from him 
as if she were on some Pacific isle. 

How fascinating she had been, with her 
strange spiritual loveliness, her air of dreamy 
melancholy ! He recalled their first meeting — 
only a brief fortnight ago — in a glazed shelter 


on the Esplanade ; he traced back each stage 
of their progress towards the sweetest intimacy. 

Never till then, although he was in his twenty- 
sixth year, had he met the woman who answered 
to his ideal, but in Isolde Le Vazon he had 
found her once for all. Her beauty was of the 
mystic and morbidezza type that had always most 
appealed to him ; she was high-strung, romantic, 
her literary taste was exquisite. No one before 
had ever shown such perfect appreciation of his 
poetry — for he wrote verses when he was not 
engaged in the uncongenial duties of the In- 
land Revenue Department, in which, on leaving 
Oxford, he had obtained a superior clerkship. 

Short as their acquaintance had been, and 
limited as were their opportunities of meeting — 
for she had come to Weymouth to attend an 
invalid aunt by whose sick-bed most of her 
day was necessarily passed — he had allowed 
himself to declare his passion, and Isolde had 
confessed that in happier circumstances she 
might have returned it. 

Unhappily she was already engaged to a 
certain Mr. Taudevin whom, if she could not 
love, she respected as one of the largest tomato- 
growers in all Guernsey. 


Isolde had more rigid views than many of 
her sex upon the binding nature of an engage- 
ment, holding that to withdraw from it, unless 
expressly released by the other party to the 
contract, was as culpable for a girl as for a 

But she had promised to lay the case before 
Mr. Taudevin as soon after her return to 
Guernsey as possible, and should he consent 
to set her free, which she warned Parmenas 
was in the highest degree improbable, all ob- 
stacles between them would be removed. On 
the other hand, should her fiance insist on 
holding her to her word, she was resolved to 
sacrifice herself at the call of duty. 

All she asked in that event was that she might 
have the consolation of feeling that Parmenas 
would be ever constant to her memory, and 
that no other would ever replace her in his 
heart, which he found it easy to promise, 
feeling that she was and would always be the 
one love of his Ufe. 

He was by nature rather a dreamer than a 
man of action, and the idea of a lifelong and 
hopeless passion was not without a certain 
attraction for his peculiar temperament. 


Then the end had come, Isolde had been 
suddenly summoned back to Guernsey, and he 
had seen her off the night before. Never could 
he forget that last parting on the deck of the 
Chamois. She had been more sadly, sweetly 
emotional than ever — oppressed by a presenti- 
ment she could not shake off that they were 
destined never to meet again on earth, pitying 
him for the loneliness he would have to endure 
when she was taken from him. 

" But I will come back to you, Parmenas — 
if I am permitted," she had said, with an in- 
spired look in her uplifted eyes. " You shall 
not be quite desolate. Some day, perhaps, you 
will find a little white dove tapping ever so 
gently at your window. Don't drive it away, 
for it will be your poor Isolde, trying to tell 
you that she is dead, and that her last thought 
was of you ! " 

She had been almost overcome by her own 
pathos, and he himself had been deeply affected. 
" But the dove will fly away again," he had 
said, "and I shall be lonelier than ever!" 

" Who knows ? Perhaps I shall be allowed 
to stay and comfort you," she had whispered : 
" at least, till the time comes when you learn 


to care for — for somebody else, Parmenas, and 
then — then you will see a poor little white bird 
lying in a corner, quite, quite dead. You might 
write one of your little poems on that, mightn't 
you ? But I mustn't be sentimental. After all, 
I mayn't die first ; Mr. Taudevin may release 
me, and we may be happy together all our 
lives. Only somehow, to-night, I can't help 
feeling as if something were going to happen. 
Promise that, whatever happens, you will be 
constant, Parmenas ! " 

If he thought her fears fantastic, her project 
of returning to him in the form of a bird 
slightly unpractical, he merely loved her the 
better for them ; so he had sworn undying 
fidelity, and, as she declined to go below, he 
had wrapped her up in rugs and shawls in a 
covered bench on deck and returned sadly 
to his lodgings. He lay still, thinking of all 
this, trying to summon up her looks and the 
least things she had said and done, until his 
eyes closed and he fell asleep once more. 

When he awoke again he became aware that 
something was in his room. He could not see 
it, but he heard a curious fluttering noise which 
seemed to proceed from the floor. Raising 


himself on his elbow, he looked, and was 
startled for the moment to see a large greyish 
bird perched on the edge of his bath, and 
gazing at him with fearless brown eyes. It 
was a remarkably fine specimen of the common 
gull (Larus canus). 

He had slept, according to his custom, with 
the window open, and the bird had evidently 
lost its bearings in the fog and flown in. He 
went towards it, but it did not budge ; it allowed 
him to take it up and put it on the window-sill, 
without attempting to fly away. One of its 
wings drooped slightly, as if it had struck 
against something in the darkness and bruised 

It was still there when he had finished dress- 
ing, and humanity forbade him to drive it away 
in its crippled condition, so he consulted his 
landlady, who undertook to borrow a wicker 
cage from a neighbour who had recently lost 
a pet jackdaw. 

The cage was brought, and the gull was easily 
persuaded to enter it, upon which Filmer sat 
down to breakfast and soon forgot the incident. 
After a merely perfunctory meal he wandered 
along the Esplanade, feeding his melancholy by 


the sight of the sheHer in which he had so 
often sat with Isolde. She had been reading 
a library novel that first morning, he remem- 
bered : it was "Ardath," by Miss Marie Corelli, 
of whose genius she was an ardent admirer. 
Now a fat woman sat there, knitting a woollen 

But as the morning passed, F'ilmer, even in 
his abstracted state, was conscious of an unusual 
stir and excitement in the passing crowd ; pre- 
sently he caught scraps of talk that filled him 
with vague uneasiness, until he could not refrain 
from asking if anything had happened. 

Something had indeed happened. News had 
just come that the Chamois had run upon the 
Casket rocks in the fog, and gone to the bottom 
— it was rumoured, with all on board. 

What Filmer felt at this crushing blow need 
not be set down here ; his reason tottered under 
it, and might have left him altogether, had not 
more reassuring tidings arrived later in the day. 
The passengers were safe after all — at least, 
all the ship's boats but one had reached land, 
and, as the sea was perfectly calm, no fears 
were entertained for the remaining boat, which 
was known to have been successfully launched. 


and had probably steered for the French 

To Filmer the rehef was considerable, even 
though he could not help remembering Isolde's 
presentiment the night before. But presenti- 
ments are not infallible, and the chances were 
immensely in favour of her having been in one 
of the boats that had turned up. 

However, the list of names was published, 
and Isolde Le Vazon's was not among them, 
and nothing more had been heard of the missing 

Even then he clung to hope, for the general 
opinion was that it had been picked up by 
some outward-bound vessel. And yet there was 
one thing which, whenever his eye fell upon it, 
struck a chill of superstitious dread into his in- 
most soul — it was the gull in its wicker cage. 

Try as he might, he could not conquer a 
suspicion that it might be connected in a 
manner that he had little imagined at first 
with the fate of his beloved Isolde. Had she 
not promised to return to him if permitted, in 
the shape of a bird ? Had not this creature 
flown into his window at the very hour the 
disaster must have happened ? 


But Isolde had mentioned a white dove — 
and this was a grey gull : he would not despair 
yet, especially as the lost boat might still prove 
to have been rescued. 

And soon this hope was justified by news 
of it from Malta. A liner had arrived there 
with some sailors and a lady and a gentleman 
passenger belonging to the ill-fated Chamois; 
and Filmer breathed more freely, for he never 
doubted, though the names were not given, 
that the lady was Isolde. 

Alas ! this certainty of his was only too 
speedily shattered. The two passengers were 
a newly wedded couple of the name of Golding- 
ham, who had been intending to make a short 
tour in the Channel Islands before returning 
to their home in South Africa. 

Doubt was no longer possible. Isolde's pre- 
diction had been tragically fulfilled ; she had 
perished in the confusion, probably whilst sleep- 
ing soundly in the covered seat which she had 
insisted on occupying. 

And the gull ? . . . He reproached himself 
now for his blindness and want of faith. What 
though it were not precisely the bird she would 
have chosen as the tenement of her spirit ? 


Gulls are more frequent at sea than white 
doves, and in her urgent desire to come to 
him she would naturally avail herself of the 
first means that offered themselves. 

" Isolde ! " he cried, as he knelt by the wicker 
cage, " is it indeed you ? Have you come 
back to me as you promised ? Tell me it is 

A sort of ripple passed through the gull's 
plumage, but she made no other answer. 

" You are mine now ! " he said with exulta- 
tion — " mine for ever ! So long as you are 
with me, I need no other companion. None 
shall come between you and me. Only give 
me some sign, to tell me you understand." 

The gull gave a little shrug, so startlingly like 
a gesture of Isolde's when she had affected to 
doubt his protestations, that even a sceptic 
must have been convinced. 

Henceforth he resolved to cherish this bird 
for the sake of the spirit that in-formed it — 
just as the Duchess of Kendal, we are told, 
cherished the great raven that flew into her 
window at Twickenham after the demise of 
King George I. He did not conceal from him- 
self ti.ut the situation had its difficulties : the 


most ordinary prudence required that his strange 
secret should be concealed from all the world ; 
and yet, even in public, he could not bring 
himself to treat his transformed divinity as 
the mere sea-fowl whose semblance she had 

It was impossible, for instance, when he took 
her up to town, to allow her to be put in the 
luggage-van ; and, as it is not every first-class 
passenger who appreciates a sea-gull as a 
fellow-traveller, the journey was scarcely an 
agreeable experience. He felt some natural 
embarrassment, too, on presenting himself to 
the astonished housekeeper in his rooms at 
Spring Gardens carrying his adored Isolde in 
a large wicker cage ; and he shuddered when 
the good woman protested against being ex- 
pected to undertake the care of what she was 
pleased to describe as "poultry." 

However, as soon as Isolde was safely estab- 
lished in his rooms, he set himself to render 
her new existence as tolerable as possible. He 
procured for her a spacious and handsome 
cage, a portion of which he curtained off, so 
as to ensure the privacy essential to a delicate- 
minded female ; and from the satisfied air with 


which she pecked the hangings he could see 
that she was grateful for his forethought. 

He also altered the furniture and decoration 
of his bachelor's den, until it was more in 
harmony with what he conceived to be her 
taste, though he failed to detect any indication 
in her manner that she was gratified by, or even 
observed, his efforts to please her. But she 
appeared to appreciate her food -dish, a tray 
of genuine old Canton enamel, and her antique 
Venice drinking-glass, which, remembering that 
at Weymouth she had once expressed a passion 
for bric-a-brac, he had picked up at a curiosity 
dealer's in Wardour Street. 

With such a new and absorbing interest in 
his life, Filmer could not fairly be called un- 
happy ; he did his work at the office with his 
customary intelligence, even though longing 
inwardly for the hour to strike which set him 
free to return to the cage which contained his 

He had never been fond of society ; now he 
went nowhere ; he was quite content to pass 
all his evenings at home, reading Shelley aloud 
to her, for her fine sensitiveness to what was 
best and highest in literature had not deserted 


her, and she seldom failed to greet the most 
inspired passages with a low croak of rapturous 
approval. When, on the other hand, he ven- 
tured to read her some little composition of 
his own she was more critical, and it was a 
proud moment for him when she was so 
carried away by a stanza of his as to spread 
her wings and utter a squawk of unmistakable 

Yes, on the whole these evenings were char- 
acterised by tranquil yet real happiness. 

He had come home early from the office one 
Saturday afternoon, and was reading " Epi- 
psychidion " to the gull, which was listening 
voluptuously with closed eyes, when he was 
unceremoniously interrupted by a visitor. The 
intruder was a fellow -clerk of his — a certain 
Frank Challis, who had been up at Oxford 
with him, and with whom, before his eventful 
holiday at Weymouth, he had been on terms 
of some intimacy. Kilmer had frequently dined 
with Challis's family at their house in Craven 
Hill Gardens, and had always been glad when 
Frank looked him up for a smoke and a con- 
fidential chat of an evening. 


But of late he had rather avoided him, 
from a feehng that his boisterous high spirits 
and reckless talk would grate upon Isolde's re- 
fined ear. 

"What-ho! old chap," began Challis. "So 
you're all alone, eh ? Thought I heard you 
jawing to somebody." 

'* I was reading aloud — to myself," explained 
Filmer, a little awkwardly, for he could not 
very well admit that he had been reading poetry 
to a gull. 

" What the deuce have you done to your 
' digs ' ? — they look more like a woman's boudoir 
than a fellow's rooms. I say — I don't want to 
be inquisitive — but you aren't married, by any 
chance ? " 

"No," said Filmer with a sad smile, "I shall 
never be that — now." And he glanced at the 

" Oh, it's too soon to chuck up yet ! " said 
Frank. " So you've started an aviary. Going 
in for keeping canaries ? . . . Why, you've got 
a gull in it — a common gull, by gad !" 

" Excuse me," said F'ilmer stiffly ; " it is by 
no means a common gull." 

" Well, it's evident you think so, or you 


wouldn't give it enamel and coloured glass to 
eat and drink out of — and a Japanese bronze 
to tub in — and frilled curtains to go to bed 
behind. Great Scot ! you'll provide it with a 
toilet-table next ! " 

" I fail to see what business it would be of 
yours if I did," said Filmer irritably. 

" My dear old chap, you needn't get shirty 
about it. Can you give me a cigar ? I've come 
out without mine." 

"I'm sorry," said Filmer, "but I've quite 
given up smoking." Which was true, for Isolde 
had once told him that she could not endure 
the smell of tobacco. 

"Oh, it doesn't matter — I've got a pipe." And 
Challis was proceeding to light up, when Filmer 
felt obliged, in Isolde's interests, to beg him to 
forbear. Then, to his horror, Frank began to 
tell him a good story he had just heard which 
had originated on the Stock Exchange, and 
which Filmer instinctively felt would prove un- 
suited to Isolde's delicate sense of propriety, so 
he hastened to say that anecdotes of that kind 
did not appeal to his sense of humour. 

" I never knew you had one," said Frank. 
"And you might tell this story to a maiden 


aunt — a frisky maiden aunt. However, it's too 
good to be wasted on you ! " 

The gull had cocked her head on one side 
with an air of expectation, and, if Filmer had 
not known Isolde so well, he would almost have 
imagined she was disappointed. But then, of 
course, she could not know what she had been 
spared ! 

" Do you know, old man," said Frank pre- 
sently, with concern in his honest face, " it 
strikes me you want rousing. Can't be healthy 
for you, shutting yourself up like this. Why not 
come and dine quietly with us ? Doriel's back 
from Dresden now — you remember Doriel ? " 

Filmer did remember Doriel as a rather 
engaging tomboy with a cloud of tawny hair, 
who had made him play tennis and cycle and 
skate with her, and had chaffed him unmerci- 
fully for his want of proficiency in all these 
exercises. He did not feel inclined to meet 
her just then. 

" She's grown up now," Frank went on — 
"come out, and all that. And though I a^n her 
brother, I will say she's turned out a 'ripper.' 
She's simply Ai at hockey!" 

But Filmer pleaded an engagement for that 


evening, and just then the servant entered with 
a tray on which were some scalloped oysters 
daintly served in a silver shell. " Mrs. Trotman 
is very sorry, sir," said the girl, "but she 
couldn't send up the gull's lunch any earlier." 

"The gull's lunch!" exclaimed Challis, after 
the servant had departed. " You do that bird 
devilish well ! Never heard of giving a gull 
scalloped oysters before. It don't seem to take 
very kindly to 'em, though." 

The bird was, indeed, merely toying with the 
bread - crumbed morsels — for, as Isolde had 
frequently informed Filmer, she regarded all 
food with indifference and even repugnance. 

" They have kept her waiting for her lunch 
till nearly tea-time," he said: "no wonder she 
has no appetite. And she is a delicate feeder 
at the best of times." 

" Rats ! " said Frank, with distressing coarse- 
ness. " You try her with a fat slug or two ! " 

It need hardly be said that Filmer repudiated 
this profane suggestion with indignant horror. 

" I tell you I know" persisted Frank ; " I kept 
a tame gull myself when I was a kid. It's no 
use giving 'em kickshaws. Slugs and snails and 
worms are the grub they like ! " 


" I suppose," said Filmer with dignity, "you'll 
allow me to be the best judge of what food my 
gall prefers." 

" Oh, you can take her to dine at Prince's or 
the Carlton, for all / care ! " retorted Challis, 
as he rose to go. " But I bet you anything 
I'm right." 

As soon as he had gone Filmer hastened to 
apologise to Isolde for the outrageous insults 
which she had been forced to endure, and he 
resumed his reading of " Epipsychidion " — only 
to be a second time interrupted by the irre- 
pressible Frank, who was so bent on proving 
to him that his views upon what constituted a 
gull's favourite diet were mistaken that he had 
actually taken the trouble to go all the way to 
a naturalist's shop in Drury Lane and procure 
an assortment of slugs and worms in a tin box 
for experimental purposes. 

Worse still, he insisted, despite Filmer's pro- 
tests, on emptying the box into Isolde's cage. 

Instead of going into violent hysterics, as 
Filmer had fully expected, she sidled delicately 
up to a worm of particularly unprepossess- 
ing exterior, and absorbed it with unaffected 


"Bravo, old girl !" cried Frank. "Now let's 
see if you can put away a slug ! " 

And, after a little coquettish hesitation, Isolde 
did put away a slug — several slugs, in fact. 

" Didn't I tell you ! " said Challis triumphantly. 
" Perhaps you'll believe me now ? " 

" I do," said Kilmer heavily, as he saw him 
to the door, " I do. And," he added awkwardly 
in a lower tone, " if you'll let me change my 
mind, I tvill come and dine with you this 
evening. It may cheer me up." 

" Right-oh !" said Frank heartily. "We shall 
all be delighted to see you — especially Doriel. 
I won't tell her about the gull, old chap, or 
she might rot you." And Filmer felt grateful 
to him for this forbearance. 

Calmer reflection convinced him of the in- 
justice of blaming his Isolde for tastes which 
were probably inseparable from the nature of 
the bird she had chosen to inhabit, and he took 
care that in future she should be provided with 
the kind of sustenance she evidently preferred. 

But he>ead her no more Shelley. 

He spent a pleasanter evening at Craven Hill 
Gardens than he had anticipated. Doriel was 


no longer the pretty romp he remembered. 
She had become an extremely charming young 
woman, and the frank friendliness with which 
she received him was soothing to his overstrung 

It was late when he returned to his rooms. 
Isolde was sleeping peacefully on her perch, 
her beak pointing towards her tail, and the sight 
of her filled him with compunction. Would 
she slumber so serenely if she knew where he 
had been and how completely he had forgotten 
her ? 

He resolved to see no more of Doriel in 
future — and, for a time, he kept his resolution. 

Unfortunately, Isolde either could not or 
would not make any effort to be an intellectual 
companion to him. She seemed fond of him, 
in her way, but gradually all her former 
sprightliness deserted her, and there were 
times when he feared that she had found him 
a bore. 

Nothing, it is well known, is so calculated to 
estrange affection as the mere suspicion that we 
bore our beloved, and Kilmer was not long in 
realising that the boredom was, to say the least, 


What wonder, then, that he should sometimes 
seek solace and recreation in the sight of 
Doriel's winsome face, in the sound of her gay 
chatter ? He did not mention this to the gull, 
because she would not have understood it ; but 
when with Doriel he endeavoured to convey 
that some hidden sorrow had set him apart 
from all other men, and that his heart was dead 
to all earthly love. 

He honestly believed this himself, and hoped 
that she realised it also, until an evening came 
which revealed to him the peril to which 
they were both unconsciously drifting. He was 
dining at Craven Hill Gardens, and, as usual, 
his place was next to Doriel. On her other 
side sat a young man of the name of Mowbray, 
a good-looking, athletic, if somewhat unintel- 
lectual youth, who was obviously attracted by 
Miss Doriel, and in whom she might have been 
expected to take at least a passing interest. 

Filmer had honestly sought to efface himself 
by directing his conversation to his other 
neighbour, and replying to Doriel's overtures 
with a brevity that only just escaped brusque- 
ness ; but she declined to be repulsed, and 
exerted all her very considerable powers of 


witchery to subdue him, entirely neglecting the 
unfortunate Mowbray. 

To his consternation, Filmer found that his 
heart was very much alive after all ; and for 
the remainder of the dinner, and even upstairs 
in the drawing-room afterwards, he surrendered 
himself entirely to Doriel's charm, and was 
rather stimulated than otherwise by observing 
the increasing gloom on young Mowbray's in- 
genuous countenance. 

But on his way home the inevitable reaction 

He saw, in a flash, that he was fast falling 
in love with Doriel ; that, should she continue 
this encouragement, nothing would save him 
from proposing to her — and he was pledged, 
solemnly pledged, to lifelong constancy to 
Isolde 1 

Isolde was awake that evening ; she had 
evidently been sitting up for him, and he could 
scarcely bring himself to meet her bright, re- 
proachful eye. " I know what you would say 
if you could," he faltered apologetically; "and 
I deserve it. I have neglected you shamefully of 
late. I will do so no more. In future, Isolde, 
all my evenings shall be passed with you ! " 


Isolde explored the region under her wing 
with her beak — it was a mannerism of hers 
which had often distressed him — before she 
raised her head and gazed intently at him for 
an instant. Then her glittering eye slowly dis- 
appeared in the soft down that surrounded it 
— and he felt that she was appeased, and that 
he was forgiven. 

Doubtless a more prosaic and practical mind 
than Kilmer's would have rebelled against the 
fate which required him to abandon all hope 
of married felicity, and be content to remain 
platonically bound for life to a mere bird. But 
to his exalted and mystical nature such abnega- 
tion seemed an obvious duty. After all, Isolde 
had made the greater sacrifice in voluntarily 
projecting herself into the body of a bird 
so grossly unromantic in its captive state 
as a sea-gull. She must be suffering at 
least as much as himself for her generous 
impetuosity, and he was determined never 
again to vex her gentle spirit by ingratitude 
or unfaithfulness. 

Accordingly — much as it cost him — he kept 
away from the Challises, hoping that in time 


they would understand that he preferred to be 
left in solitude. 

And his renunciation did not go altogether 
unrewarded, for it really seemed as if the gull 
were trying to do her best to fill the blank in 
his life. She grew gentler, more subdued, 
every day ; the brisk perkiness that had once 
repelled him disappeared ; she even overcame 
her voracious appetite, as though in deference 
to his prejudices — he was touched to observe 
that she could scarcely be prevailed upon now 
to dally with the most tempting slug. 

The year drew to its close, and he had almost 
succeeded in putting Doriel out of his thoughts, 
when one Sunday afternoon the maid-servant 
suddenly opened the door and announced : 
"Mr. and Miss Challis" — and Filmer sprang 
to his feet with a wild joy, which he could 
only hope escaped the gull's observant eye. 

"We've just been to service at the Abbey," 
explained Doriel, looking more bewitching than 
ever in a highly becoming black hat and sables, 
" and I insisted on Frank bringing me on here 
to ask you what you mean by neglecting us 
for weeks and weeks." 

" I told her you had one of your unsociable 


fits on, and didn't want to be bothered," said 
Frank, " but she would come. She will have 
it that you're offended with us." 

Filmer stammered something incoherent as 
he offered them tea. He did not think the gull 
could object to his doing that. 

" You know you're glad to see us ! " said 
Doriel : " confess you were feeling horribly 
lonely up here ! " 

" Not he ! " laughed Frank. " He's got his 
beloved gull to keep him company." 

"A gull?" cried Doriel. "So that's what 
you keep in that cage there. What a queer 
sort of pet ! Is it amusing ? Can it do any 
tricks ? " 

Her light tone jarred on Filmer just then. 
He replied, somewhat shortly, that a gull was 
hardly on the same footing as a performing 

" How dull ! " said Doriel, going up to the 
cage. " I should have thought a cockatoo 
would be more cheerful for you than a mopy 
creature like this. I'd no idea gulls were such 
ugly things. What makes it flap its wings at 
me like that ?" 

"She is not accustomed to hearing such 


extremely personal remarks," said Filmer 

"You say that as if you thought she under- 
stood what I said ! " exclaimed Doriel, raising 
her pretty eyebrows. 

"And if I do, Miss Challis," he replied, 
"perhaps I have my reasons." 

" I'm sorry," said Doriel with provoking good- 
humour. " I apologise. Do you hear, gull ? — 
I apologise. And just to show there's no ill- 
feeling, you may come and perch on my 

She had already stripped off her glove, and, 
before Filmer could interfere, she had thrust 
her slim white hand into the gull's cage. . . . 
The temptation was too much for Isolde : she 
struck viciously at her rival's forefinger with 
her sharp yellow beak, and Doriel drew back 
her hand with a little cry of pain. " See what 
your horrid bird has done to me ! " she said, 
exhibiting the wound to him with a childishly 
pathetic inoue ; and he longed to seize the 
injured hand and cover it with kisses, but 
loyalty to Isolde forbade. It was not Doriel, 
standing there in her fresh young beauty, that 
most deserved his pity, but rather the homely 


grey bird fluttering in a paroxysm of impotent 

*^ Aity bird would be frightened," he said, 
clumsily enough, "when you put your hand in 
like that." 

" I suppose I ought to have known," said 
Doriel, with a distinct change of manner; ''but 
you see I'd no idea my poor hand was quite 
such a hideous object. Frank, will you lend 
me your handkerchief and bind it up — as Mr. 
Filmer doesn't seem to think it worth troubling 
himself about ? " 

" I say ! it's bleeding like blazes ! " cried her 
brother, binding up the linger, as the unhappy 
Filmer stood there, too paralysed to offer his 
services. "You poor little girl! Upon my 
soul, Filmer," he added indignantly, " it would 
serve that brute right if you were to wring its 
beastly neck for it. I'd do it myself for two- 
pence ! " 

''Touch her if you dare!" cried Filmer, 
exasperated beyond all self-control. " It was 
not her fault ; she was provoked — deliberately, 
wantonly provoked ! You — you don't know 
what she is to me ! " 

"Apparently not," said Doriel. "I think we 


won't wait for tea, Frank. Mr. Filmer doesn't 
seem to be quite himself this afternoon." 

Filmer made no attempt to detain them — 
he felt it would be useless. As soon as they 
were gone he turned to Isolde, who had quieted 
down again. "Are you satisfied 7iow?" he 
cried fiercely. " I loved that girl — do you hear ? 
I own it ; and I have let her go, — for your sake. 
You need not fear that she will ever come 
between us in future ; that accursed beak of 
yours has alienated her for ever. But oh, 
Isolde, think — is it fair to demand this from 
me ? Must you always remain a bird ? Can 
you not comfort me in some less incongruous 
shape ? I implore you at least to make an 
effort ! " 

As he said this he heard a sound behind him, 
and turned, to see Doriel Challis standing in 
the doorway. 

" I — I fancy I must have dropped my glove 
here," she said, and he noticed that she was 
deadly pale. 

" Did you hear," — he asked her, — " did you 
hear anything ? " 

" Everything," she admitted. " I — I came 
back, really, to tell you but that doesn't 


matter now. Parmenas, you mustn't give way 
to these morbid ideas — I can't bear it ! Get 
rid of that wretched bird — to please me !" 

She was tempting him — Doriel was tempting 
him — to some unspeakable infamy ; but he felt 
just then that he was proof against all her 
wiles. " I will not ! " he cried. " I have sworn 
to be constant, and I will be ! Nothing on 
earth shall make me part from my Isolde, so 
long as she chooses to remain with me." 

"You will never be happy till you do," en- 
treated Doriel. " Dear, dear Parmenas, doiit 
make me miserable ! Come to me to-morrow 
and tell me that it is over — that you are your 
own self again. Then I shall have something 
to tell you." 

And so she left him ; but her spell over him 
was broken by the callous selfishness of her 
request. She knew all now, and yet she could 
urge him to destroy (for what else could her 
words mean ?) this bird which stood in her way. 

''No, Isolde," he murmured, "I may be 
weak — but I am not so weak as that. She has 
made me yours once more. I love her no 
longer. This time my heart will never waver 
from you again ! " 


But the gull made no response ; she was 
strangely still, he thought. It was growing 
dark, and he lit a candle and peered into the 
cage. . . . There she lay at the bottom, her 
wings spread, her eyes dull and filmy, her 
yellow beak partly open, her crumpled feet 
already stiffening. 

She was quite dead. Isolde's spirit had, as 
she had once predicted, been unable to bear 
the revelation of his inconstancy. 

In the first ecstasy of his remorse Filmer had 
no sense of recovered freedom. On the con- 
trary, he felt more irrevocably bound than ever. 
Wherever Isolde's spirit had betaken itself, he 
vowed that it should never again be grieved by 
the least inconstancy on his part. Perhaps, he 
thought, when she realised the sincerity of his 
repentance, she would return to him in some 
form more worthy of her. 

And, that he might always have a safeguard 
at hand against further backsliding, he took 
the gull himself to be prepared and set up by 
one of the leading naturalists in London. 

But the naturalist kept it a long time — and 
insensibly Kilmer's thoughts began to recur to 


Doriel Challis. Had she really been so heart- 
less as she seemed ? She had only begged him 
to "get rid of" the gull : might she not merely 
have meant that he should part with it ? If 
so, how unjust he had been to her ! And what 
if Isolde had vacated the bird in pity for them 
both ? In that case he was simply frustrating 
her generous intention. 

His relations with Frank had, ever since that 
memorable Sunday afternoon, been of the most 
distant character ; they never spoke to one 
another, except when the work of their depart- 
ment brought them in contact ; but he saw no 
reason why he should not write to Doriel, and 
one evening in February, on his way home 
from the ofHce, he made up his mind to do so. 

But no sooner had he carried his reading- 
lamp to his bureau and sat down to write, tha. 
he fell back in his chair in stupefied dismay. 

On the blank surface of his blotting-pad a 
sentence was traced in large irregular letters 
which turned his heart sick and cold as he read. 
" Could stay no longer. Will come back if possible, 
— Isolde," ran the message. 

She was coming back ! In what form ? 

Hardly the gull's — since that was in the hands 



of the stuffer. One thing only was clear — she 
had not intended to release him after all, and 
with that spirit-message staring him in the face 
it was impossible to write that letter to Doriel. 

As he sat there trying to collect his scattered 
senses, there came three low raps at his door, 
which he knew were given by no maidservant ; 
he tried to say " Come in," but his dry tongue 
refused to obey him. And the door opened 
slowly, and on the threshold stood a figure 
which, even in the comparative darkness, he 
knew could only be that of Isolde. At least, 
he thought, she had come in human shape this 

" Have you no welcome for me, Parmenas ? " 
she said, in the voice he so well remembered. 
" Or are you too utterly disgusted by the way 
I behaved?" 

" If you refer to — to the slugs, Isolde," he 
replied, "forget them — as / do. I could not 
hold you responsible for the appetites of the 
form you assumed I " 

" I'm afraid I don't understand," she said ; 
and he perceived that she either did not re- 
member, or did not choose to be reminded of, 
this incident in her recent avatar. 


" You are thinking of how you pecked 
Doriel's— Miss ChaUis's hand ?" he said. "It 
was a not unnatural outburst of jealousy — you 
had much provocation." 

" I've no recollection of pecking any person's 
hand," she said. "And who is Miss Challis ? " 

" You cannot really have forgotten the girl 
who made uncomplimentary remarks on you 
when you were in that cage ? " he replied. 
" That was Miss Challis." 

" When I was in that cage ! " she repeated 
slowly. " Parmenas ! what are you talking 
about ? " 

" It will all come back to you," he said. 
"Think, Isolde! That last day, at Weymouth, 
when you solemnly promised that, if you should 
die before me, you would come to me in the 
form of a white dove — now don't you re- 
member ? " 

" Did I ever really say anything so ridiculously 
sentimental ? " she asked. 

" Ah, don't scoff, Isolde ! Because you kept 
your word. Yes, on that fatal night when the 
Chamois went down, a bird — not a white dove 
precisely, but a grey gull — flew in at my open 
window. I knew you at once — at least, almost 


at once. And I brought you here, and kept 
you in that very cage till — till you could remain 
in the gull no longer. ... So you have for- 
gotten ? No matter, since you have come back 
to me once more." 

She threw herself rather suddenly in the 
nearest arm-chair (he would have offered it to 
her before but for an impression that spirits 
never sat down), and then — to his utter astonish- 
ment, for in life she had seldom relaxed even 
into a smile — she went into peal after peal of 
half-hysterical laughter. 

At first he imagined that she was sobbing 
convulsively, but he soon recognised that he 
was mistaken. 

" How could you have been so absurd ? " she 
gasped, as soon as she could speak. " It's 
horrid of me to laugh — for it's really rather 
touching of you — but a gull ! . . . Me ! . . . 
Oh, it's quite too killing!" 

"But it's true!" he assured her: "I could 
show you the gull, only it's being stuffed ! " 

This only set her off again. " But / wasn't 
in the thing 1 " she cried. " How could I be ? 
Why, I do believe you've been taking me for 
a ghost all this time I " 


" My poor Isolde," he said, endeavouring to 
break the truth to her as gently and con- 
siderately as he could, " can you really be un- 
aware of — of your present state ? " 

" Don't be so silly ! " she replied petulantly. 
*' How can I be a ghost when I'm not dead ? 
There, take that green shade off the lamp, and 
look at me well. . . . Now do you see anything 
spectral about me ? " 

As she sat there in the white glare of the 
unshaded lamp, Filmer had to admit that she 
was indeed a creature of solid flesh and blood 
— almost too solid, in fact — for in her robust 
physique there were few traces of the fragile 
and almost diaphanous form of the Isolde of 
the previous August — there were even indica- 
tions of an approaching double chin ! 

" Yes," he said slowly, " I see now. You are 
no ghost, Isolde ! " 

" Perhaps you would have preferred that I 
kad been ? " she said. 

He could not help feeling that he was pledged 
to her, and that she was here to claim him ; 
but all he said was : " /so/de ! When I have 
been faithful to your memory all these weary 
months !" 


''Are you quite sure that you have been faith- 
ful ? " she asked. " Honestly now, Parmenas ? " 

''There may have been moments," he con- 
fessed, ''when the gull failed to fill the aching 
void in my life." 

"And then you fitted that Miss — what is her 
name ? Challis, isn't it ? — into the vacancy ? 
I'm rather glad she got her hand pecked ! " 

"I am still yours," he said, "if you care to 
claim me." 

" But supposing I don't — you would use your 
liberty to propose to this Challis girl ? Well, 
you may do so, Parmenas — you are free." 

"This is too generous!" he cried in a burst 
of Quixotism. "No, Isolde, I cannot accept this 
sacrifice ! " 

" It's no sacrifice at all, because, as it happens, 
I am already another's." 

"What?" he cried, with unspeakable relief. 
"You have married Mr. Tiudevin, then?" 

It was Isolde's turn to look embarrassed. 
" No, not him," she replied—" somebody else. 
Somebody who was on board the Chamois that 
night. I was in a covered seat on deck — he 
came and shared it with me. We discovered 
that we had much in common. When the crash 


came, he got me into one of the boats with a 
few sailors, and we drifted for days. He did 
not propose to me until we were reduced to 
the last Osborne biscuit ; and, under the im- 
pression that, in any case, we had but a short 
time to live, I accepted him. The people on the 
liner that picked us up took us for a newly- 
wedded couple, and, not wishing to be identified, 
I did not undeceive them. The fraud was a 
very innocent one, for as soon as we reached 
Malta I became Mrs. Goldingham." 

" You might have let me know all this earlier," 
he said : " it would have spared me considerable 

" I could not bear to shatter your ideal of 
me," she explained. " I felt that you would 
rather think of me as dead than know the truth, 
And there was Mr. Taudevin to be considered, 
too. But he has married since. Then I thought 
that, as I was about to return for the last time 
to South Africa, it was fairer perhaps to come 
and tell you that you needn't grieve for me any 
longer. So I came — only to find that you are 
faithless too. Ah, there is no such thing as 
constancy in men ! " 

" You would not say so," he remonstrated, 


" if you knew how I cherished the gull for your 
sake, Isolde ! " 

She began to laugh again. " I think there 
were — intervals," she said; "and I utterly de- 
chne to be responsible for the gull. But now 
neither of us will stand in your way any longer. 
I must run away now — or my husband will be 
asking inconvenient questions. . . . Good-bye, 
Parmenas — accept my best wishes ! " 

She was gone — and he was free, really free 
at last — to write to Doriel. Stay : why should 
he write, when he might go to her and plead 
his cause in person ? In ten minutes he was 
on his way to Craven Hill Gardens in a hansom. 

It was dark by the time he reached the house, 
but not so dark that he failed to notice a 
temporary awning over the front door. So the 
Challises were giving a dance, or an evening 
party. He had forfeited all right to an invita- 
tion, he knew, but he felt sure that he would 
have one, when once Doriel had realised that 
he was in his right mind at last, cured for ever 
of his fantastic delusion. 

He asked for " Mr. Frank," meaning first 
to set himself right with Challis, who, he 


remembered now with some anxiety, had not 
been at the ofBce that day. He could not be 
seriously ill, however, for the man - servant 
showed him into the billiard - room, where 
Frank was engaged in idly knocking the balls 

He was clearly surprised to see Filmer, though 
he tried not to betray it. " Sit down, old chap," 
he said, as heartily as though there had been no 
coolness between them. " Sorry you couldn't 
turn up before— but better late than never ! " 

" I — I wasn't free to come before," said Filmer, 
and added, with a gulp, " I can't help being 
afraid that you and — and Doriel thought I be- 
haved rather oddly — about that wretched gull, 
you know." 

"Oh, that's all right!" said Frank hurriedly. 
" Have you got rid of it at last, eh ? " 

" It died," said Filmer simply. " I made a 
fearful ass of myself over it. I see that now ! " 

"Then don't say any more about it. IVe 
understand how it was," declared Frank, who 
seemed unaccountably anxious to avoid the 

" But I must tell Doriel that — that I've come 
to my senses." 


"You take my advice and leave things as 
they are," counselled Frank. "And anyway, 
you can't tell Doriel anything at present — she's 
half-way to Dover by this time ! " 

" To Dover ! what has she gone to Dover 
for?" asked Filmer, rendered inquisitive by 

" Well, they only stay the night there," said 
Frank, "on their way to the Italian Lakes." 

"They?" said Filmer. "Has your mother 
gone too, then ? " 

" Not exactly ! " said Frank, with a laugh : 
" Doriel and Cecil Mowbray — for their honey- 
moon. Didn't you know ? I made sure you'd 
had an invitation. Doriel meant to send you 
one, I know." 

For a moment the billiard-table and lamps 
seemed to spin round giddily, and then Filmer 
heard himself saying, quite quietly and naturally, 
" No, I never got it. Did you say — Cecil Mow- 
bray ? " 

" Yes ; clinking good chap he is, too. You 
met him here the last time you dined with us — 
don't you remember ? It was just beginning 
then. We dropped in to tell you the news that 
Sunday just before Christmas — only — well, we 


came away without doing it for some reason. 
Care to come up and have a look at the 
presents ? They won't have put 'em away yet, 
and she's had some rather jolly ones." 

But Filmer thought he had hardly time for 
it that evening. 

" Well, I won't ask you to stay and dine to- 
night, because it would be rather poor fun for 
you — we shan't be over cheery, now Doriel's 
gone. You must come and meet them both 
when they're back from the honeymoon." 

"Thanks," said Filmer, "I — I will, if I can. 
And when you're writing, will you tell — Mrs. 
Mowbray that I wish her every happiness?" 

Some hours later he got back to Spring 
Gardens, after consuming a dismal dinner at 
an Italian restaurant, surprised to find that he 
could eat at all, and that he felt no particular 
emotion. But the truth was that he was still 
numbed by the shock he had undergone. 

When he reached his sitting-room he found 
a large wooden box on his table, which he 
opened with no very clear notion of what 
might be inside. 

It contained a glass case, in which, on a 


rock covered with dried seaweed and with a 
background imperfectly suggesting the bound- 
less ocean, the gull w^as perched in a lifelike 

She had been admirably stuffed, and in the 
glass eyes which challenged his he seemed to 
see a gleam of cynical mockery, as though 
the bird were exulting in the thought of the 
long and successful imposture by which she 
had obtained food and shelter, and the most 
reverent and unremitting attention — all under 
false pretences ! 

He felt a sudden impulse to destroy it then 
and there, and with it every vestige of his in- 
fatuation — he had already seized the poker for 
the purpose — and then his hand relaxed. 

After all, it was childish as well as brutal to 
wreak vengeance on the dead. Besides, this 
poor effigy had not deceived him — it was he 
who had deceived himself. And then he re- 
membered how much she — if the bird was a 
female, for he had taken her sex for granted — 
had done to sustain him at the beginning of 
his imaginary bereavement ; he thought of the 
patience with w^hich she, a wild sea-bird, had 
endured captivity, of her fearless trust in him, 


and her dumb efforts to be a companion to 
him ; and his heart softened. 

Gull though she was, she was the one creature 
that had been constant to him to the end. 

And so the glass case was suffered to remain 
intact — but not in Kilmer's sitting-room : he 
felt he could not stand the ironical inquiry of 
those artificial eyes — and the stuffed gull now 
forms the most cherished ornament in his house- 
keeper's parlour. 

In fact, the good woman appreciates it far 
more in its present condition than ever she did 
in the flesh, when, as she remarks — with more 
accuracy than she is aware of — " It couldn't 
have made more mess and trouble if it had 
been a Christian ! " 


(^A Country-house Tragi-comedy, in Two Parts) 


Scene — The Drawing-room at Dripstone Manor ^ 
a stately Jacobean mansioti recently acquired by 
Mr. Joseph Shuttleworth {of Shuttle- 
worth & Clack, Carpet Manufacturers, 
Yarmninster). It is towards dusk i?t early 
October, Mrs. Shuttleworth, a plump, 
good-humoured-looking matron of about fifty, 
is discovered with her children, viz. GRACE, 
a rather prim and precise young woman of 
twenty-three ; FLOSSIE, a pretty and lively 
girl of eighteen ; CONNIE, trvelve, and COLlN, 
ten. With them are Gillian Pinceney, a 
High School friend of GRACE'S ; Ut Gor- 
ing, a Boarding-school chum of Flossie's, 
who are staying at the Manor ; and the 
younger children's Governess, Miss Mark- 
HAM. Mr. Shuttleworth, fifty -five, florid 
and prosperous-looking, enters with his son 
Bob, twenty-one, of Eton and Cambridge. 
Both are in shooting tilings. 

Mrs. Shuttleworth {to them). So you're 
back at last ! I've just sent away the tea. 
But if you'd like some, I could easily 


Mr. Shutt. Not for me, Louisa, thanks. 
Bob and I had something as we came through 
the dining-room. That Jack-o'-dandy friend of 
Bob's, Dormer, may Uke a cup, though, for 
all I can say. 

Mrs. Shutt. But what's become of Mr. 
Dormer ? 

Mr. Shutt. Gone upstairs to titivate, I 
expect. Bless you, you wouldn't catch him 
coming in here in his shooting toggery ! 

Bob. Fact is. Mater, the Governor's rather 
riled with Dormer for saying on the way 
home that, on the whole, he thought the safest 
thing to be was a pheasant. Dormer didn't 
mean anything by it. Sir. 

Mr. Shutt. It's my belief he did. And 
considering how confoundedly bad the light's 
been this afternoon, and that I never took to 
shooting at all till late in life, I don't call 
myself a particularly poor shot. 

Bob {sotto voce, to Miss GORiNG). Never knew 
any one who did. But the poor old Governor 
is rather apt to draw his bow at a venture. 

Mrs. Shutt. I can't say I quite take to 
your friend Mr. Dormer, Bob. He has such 
a nasty sneering way with him. 


Grace. He's atrociously conceited. If he's 
a type of the Oxford undergraduate, I prefer 

Flossie. I'm certain he's looking down on 
us secretly all the time. 

Bob. What bosh ! You don't understand 
old Dormer, that's all. He's a nailing good 
fellow. Capital company ! 

Mrs. Shutt. You said he would keep us 
all amused if he could only be got to come. 
But so far, I can't say 

Bob. Well, Mater, after being at the same 
house at Eton with him, I ouglit to know. 
And all I can tell you is, that he was far and 
away the best mimic I ever heard. He could 
imitate everybody and everything. 

Flossie. Up to now he has only favoured 
us with an imitation of a disagreeable stuck-up 
pig. It's life-like — but still it is beginning to 
pall. i^She starts as DORMER lounges in ; he has 
dressed for dinner, except that he is wearing a 
black smoking -coat.) Oh, Mr. Dormer, you 
did startle me so ! You look exactly like a 

Dormer. And are curates such alarming 
objects ? But you're all in the dark, here. 


Flossie. Yes. We thought you would come 
in and be brilHant. 

DoKMEK. I'm afraid I can't compete with 
the ordinary methods of illumination. {To 
himself.) Wish this girl would see that Fm 
not in the humour for this sort of thing. 

Mr. Shutt. {to himself). Can't do with this 
young fellow ! {Aloud, to his wife.) Fm off to 
my study, Louisa. Got some letters to write. 

[^He goes out. 

Dormer {to himself). On the sofa — with 
his eyes shut ! Only wish I could slip out, 
too — but they might think it rather casual. 
{Aloud, to Flossie.) You haven't told me why 
you charged me with looking clerical ? Can't 
say I feel complimented. 

Flossie. Oh, it doesn't go any deeper than 
a buttoned-up coat and white tie. And you 
might have a worse compliment than being 
compared to a clergyman ! 

Mrs. Shutt. Talking of clergymen, my 

dear, that reminds me the Rector has never 

called yet. Considering we have been here 

six weeks, and attended church regularly every 

Sunday morning, I do think he might have 

found time to return the civility before this ! 



Dormer. If it was the Rector I had the 
privilege to hear last Sunday, impressing upon 
us the duty of cheerfulness in sepulchral tones 
that were calculated to draw howls from a 
china poodle, I should be inclined to think 
myself that the gaiety of the party has not 
suffered appreciably from his delay. 

Mrs. Shutt. Mr, Polyblank's pulpit manner 
is a little melancholy, certainly — he's a 
bachelor, poor man. But they tell me he's 
very much looked up to ; comes of a very 
good family, and intimate with all the county 
folk, so perhaps he doesn't consider us good 
enough for him, 

Grace. Really, mamma, you talk as if we 
were pariahs ! Most of the county people 
round here have called on us. What does it 
matter if Mr. Polyblank chooses to stay away ? 

Mrs. Shutt. All the same, my dear, there's 
a sort of natural tie between the Rectory and 
the Manor which — not that I'm one to force 
my acquaintance on anybody. Still he might 
give us credit for not being downright savages, 
if we do come from Yarnminster ! 

Flossie. There, mother dear, that's enough 
of the Reverend Poly. I vote we have a game 


at something. Are you fond of games, Mr. 
Dormer ? 

Dormer. Indoor games ? Er — not immoder- 
ately. The mere fact of being suppHed with a 
slip of paper and a stumpy pencil, and required 
to compile a list of animals beginning with A, 
paralyses my faculties. I assure you I never 
can produce a single animal beginning with A. 

Flossie {with intention). Not even one ? But 
it's too dark to see to write. We might have 
a guessing game — where somebody has to go 
out of the room, you know. 

Dormer. Ah, I think 1 could play at that. 

Flossie. And when you come back, you 
have to guess from our questions what cele- 
brated historical person you're supposed to be. 

Dormer. I should never get within a mile 
of it. I've forgotten my Little Henry s History 
of England ages ago. 

Miss Markham {in a small thin voice). 
There's a most amusing guessing game called 
" Adverbs." 

Dormer. It sounds perfectly delightful. 
Only I'm afraid that I've only the sketchiest 
idea of what sort of thing an adverb is. 

Miss Markham. Surely you know that ! It's a 


part of speech, formed by adding the termina- 
tion "ly" to an adjective. For instance : bad — 

Dormer. Good — goodly. I see now, Miss 
Markham. Tremendous fun, I've no doubt. 

Miss Markham {annoyed). I was about to 
explain how it's played. One of the party 
goes out, and the rest agree in what manner 
they are all to receive him when he returns — 
"admiringly," "affectionately," and so on. 

Dormer. And he comes in pretending he's 
somebody else ? 

Miss Markham. He can if he chooses, of 
course. But all he need do is to ask ques- 
tions all round, and from the way in which 
they are answered he guesses what the adverb 
is. Now do you see, Mr. Dormer ? 

Dormer. I think I have grasped the idea. 
1 don't mind volunteering to go out of the 
room, at all events. 

Grace. Very well. You go out, Mr. Dormer, 
and just wait about in the hall till we call 
you in. 

Dormer. Delighted. {To himself, as he goes 
out.) It's just possible I may be a little hard 
of hearing. 


Flossie {after he has closed the door). Now, 
what adverb shall it be ? Do let's make it 
something difficult! 

Miss Pinceney. Why not something which 
would let us show him what we think of 
him— "Candidly" ? "Contemptuously" ? 

Bob. That would be rather rough on him, 
Miss Pinceney. I asked him down here, you 
know, and really 

Mrs. Shutt. Yes, my dear, it wouldn't be 
kind to make any visitor of ours uncomfort- 
able, would it ? 

Flossie. He makes us uncomfortable. He's 
as rude as ever he can be ! 

Grace {thoughtfully). Why not make the 
adverb "rudely"? We could be rude without 
being personal, 

Mrs. Shutt. If you're sure he won't mis- 

Bob. Oh, hell understand all right. After all, 
it's only a game. " Rudely " will do first-rate. 
I'll call him in. 

In the Entrance-Hall. 
The Rev. Peregrine Polyblank {at the 
glazed doors). 1 wonder if they heard me ring. 


{He descries Dormer in the gloom.) Ah, at 

last ! He doesn't seem to see me Perhaps 

I'd better {^He goes in.) Er — I am the 

Rector — Mr. Polyblank. Is Mrs. Shuttleworth 
at home, my good man ? 

Dormer {stiffly). I've no doubt Mrs. Shuttle- 
worth will be pleased to see you, Sir, if you 
wait a moment. ( To himself ^ as he passes on to 
the library.) Confounded cheek, taking me for 
the butler ! But this will put that adverb 
foolery out of their heads, thank goodness. I 
shall get a nap in peace, now ! 

The Rector {alone, to himself). Painful to 
enter the old place again, I miss those poor 
dear Hardupps at every turn. To find strangers 
in the familiar rooms — it will be an ordeal, but 
I could not put it off any longer. . . . Why 
doesn't the butler return ? Does this good lady 
mean to keep me here awaiting her pleasure ? 

If these are manufacturing manners- • But 

I must beware of prejudice. No doubt there 
is some good reason for her delay. After all, 
people may have made a fortune out of 
carpets without being necessarily lacking in 
the refinements and courtesies of well-bred 


Bob {opening the draiving-room door). We're 
ready for you now, old chap. You can come 
in as soon as you like ! 

The Rector [to himself). "Old chap!" I 
"can come in!" . . . Well, well, I suppose 
this is the Yarnminster idea of cordiality. A 
little crude, perhaps — but well-meant, 

\He enters the drawing-room. 


Scene — The Drawing-room at Dripstone. THE 
Rector has just entered, and stands help- 
lessly endeavouring to identify the Mistress 
of the House in the deepening dusk. 

Bob {cheerily). Make yourself at home, old 
fellow. Take a pew ! 

The Rector {to himself). "Take a pew!" 
The heartiness of manufacturing circles is really 
rather trying ! {Aloud.) But excuse me, I don't 
yet see 

Bob {taking him by the shoulders and thrusting 
him down on a couch in the centre of the circle). 
Squat there, and hre away. 

The Rector. I — ah — don't know whether 
you are aware that mv — um — ah — name is 


Polyblank, and that I am the Rector of Drip- 
stone ? 

[A general ripple of genuine, if reluctant, 

Bob. The Reverend Poly, eh ? by Jove ! 
capital ! All right, now begin asking questions — 
any rot will do, you know. Start with the Mater. 

The Rector {to himself). Are they all like 
this in Yarnminster ? {Aloud.) I confess that 
in this — ah — semi-darkness I find considerable 
difficulty in ascertaining the precise whereabouts 
of my — um — ah — hostess. 

\_A n outburst of irrepressible laughter. 

Mrs. Shutt. {giggling helplessly). Oh, dear, 
dear, I oughtn't to laugh — but he is so ridicu- 
lous ! This is me, over here in the corner. 

The Rector {pitching his voice in that direc- 
tion). I trust, my deah Mrs. Shuttleworth, that 
I have not seemed reprehensibly — ah — tardy in 
coming here to make your acquaintance ? 

Mrs. Shutt. {in a whisper). I don't know 
what to answer. {Aloud.) Tardy ? Oh dear, 
no. I shouldn't have cared if you'd stayed 
away altogether. {In a whisper, to Grace.) Do 
you think that was too rude, dear ? 

Grace. Oh, not at all, mamma. {Aloud to 


The Rector.) There, you've had mamma's 
answer. Now it's my turn. 

The Rector [to himself, in mild surprise). 
These people are really too impossible ! [Ad- 
dressing himself to Grace.) May I plead in 
excuse that my delay is due (firstly) to the 
preparations for our Harvest Festival, and 
(secondly) to the entire parish work being 
thrown upon my shoulders by my curate's 
having unexpectedly extended his holiday. 

\^A universal roar of delight. 

Bob. fust his pulpit manner, isn't it ? {Sotto 
voce, to Flossie.) Now perhaps you'll own I 
was right about Dormer. 

Flossie {in the same tone, to him). I must 
say he can be awfully clever and amusing — 
when he chooses. 

Grace {replying to The Rector). You can 
plead no excuse for trying to be clever at the 
expense of a clergyman who, with all his 
peculiarities, has fifty times your brains. 

The Rector {to himself). I should not have 

said that Barlam's brains were But why 

should I let myself be annoyed by such a 
trifle ? {Aloud.) My dear young lady, need I 
protest that I had not the slightest ideah ? 


Bob. Leave this to me, Grace. {To The 
Rector.) Not the sHghtest idea ? No, old 
chap, nobody here ever supposed you hadl 


The Rector {to himself). I trust I am not 
unduly puffed up with the pride of intellect — 
but really ! {Aloud.) I came here in the hope 
that the natural — ah — bond between the 
Rectory and the Manor {Shouts of laugh- 
ter.) Don't you think — {with pathos) — don't 
you think you are making this rather difficult 
for me ? 

Flossie. It would be easy enough for any 
one who wasn't a hopeless idiot. 

The Rector {to himself). Can there be in- 
sanity in this family ? Merely ill-manners, I 
suspect. I won't give up just yet. Perhaps, 
by patience and sweetness, I shall win them 
over in the end. {Aloud, with laboured urbanity^ 
I am indeed in the Palace of Truth ! But there 
— we must no more look for reverence from the 
young than for— er— figs from an — um — ah — 
thistle. Must we ? 

Ivy Goring. I should have thought myself 
you \VQV\\& prefer the um — ah — thistles. 

[ Uproarious applause. 


The Rector {gasping). You compel me to 
remind you of a certain passage in the beautiful 
Catechism of our Church which 

Gillian Pinceney. Please don't. There are 
some things which should be respected — even 
by a professional buffoon ! 

The Rector {thunderstruck). A professional 

buff ! {Allowing his voice to boom.) Is there 

nobody here capable of answering the most 
ordinary remark without some monstrous 
insult ? 

Colin. Not j^z/r remarks. 

The Rector {to himself). I was never in such 
a household in all my life — never ! {Aloud.) 
As far as I can distinguish in this dusk, there 
is a little girl sitting over there. I'm sure 

she^ {To Connie.) Are you fond of 

animals, little girl ? 

Connie. I'm not fond of animals like you. 

\^A felicitous repartee, which is received 
with the zvildest enthusiasm. 

The Rector {to himself). I will make just one 
more effort. {To Mrs. Shuttleworth.) You 
must find a great pleasure, Mrs. — ah — Shuttle- 
worth, in occupying such a picturesque, and, 
I may say, historic house as this ? 


Mrs. Shutt. [wiping her eyes). Oh, dear, 
is it me again ? . . . Yes, it is a pleasant 
house — except when one has to entertain tire- 
some visitors who tvill ask foolish questions. 

The Rector. You may rely upon being 
secure from such inflictions for the future, 
madam. ( With warmth.) Why, why is it that 
I can count upon a kindly welcome in the 

humblest cottage, whereas here ? 

\He chokes. 

Miss Markham [demurely). I really can't say, 
perhaps cottagers are not vtvy particular. 

The Rector [passing his hand over his brow). 
I confess I am utterly at a loss to understand 
what all this means I 

Colin. Keep on asking questions. Ask Grace 
how she'd like to be the Reverend Mrs. Poly, 
and see what she says. Mummy said only the 
other day how nice it would be if 

The Rector [rising). Silence, boy ! I have 
heard enough ! I have stayed too long. I will 
go, before I am tempted to disgrace my calling 
by some unclerical outburst ! 

All [in fits of laughter). No, no, you mustn't 
go yet. You haven't said how we've received 
you ! 


The Rector {in a white rage). How ? How ! ! 
. . . Why, outrageously ! Abominably ! ! 

{General hissing. 

All. Wrong, wrong ! You haven't got it 
yet. Don't give it up ! Try again ! 

The Rector [stiffly). Pardon me — but a neces- 
sarily restricted vocabulary 

{Howls of laughter. 

Flossie {as they calm down). Well, the right 
adverb was " rudely." 

The Rector. I am not prepared to dispute 
it. Though there are others which perhaps are 
even more 

Flossie. I thought you saw it long ago. We 
might have been a little ruder, perhaps. 

The Rector. I should be sorry to question 
your capabilities — but still, I can hardly con- 
ceive that possible. 

Mrs. Shutt. Well, I don't know when I've 
had such a good laugh. It certainly is a 
most amusing game. Or at least you made 
it so. How wonderfully you did take the poor 
dear Rector off, to be sure ! When you first 
came in, I said to myself, " That cafi't be Mr, 
Dormer ! " But of course, directly you began 
to be so ridiculous, I remembered Bob had told 


us what a mimic you were. You really ought 
to go on the stage. You'd make your fortune 
as an actor, you would indeed ! 

The Rector {dropping feebly into a chair). I 
— ah — you do me too much honour, my dear 
Mrs. Shuttleworth. {To himself.) These poor 
dear deluded people ! I see now. . . It was a 
game . . . They didn't know me in the dark — 
they don't know me now ! . . . What a position 
— for them and me. What a horrible position ! 

Mrs. Shutt. Grace, my dear, will you ring 
for the lights ? 

The Rector {to himself). The lights ! If 
they're brought in, I shall never be able to look 
this family in the face again ! {Aloud.) Er — 
ah — so pleased to have afforded you so much 
— um — ah — innocent amusement — but I'm a 
little fatigued, and, if you'll allow me, I — I think 
I'll slip away. 

\^He makes his exit, amidst hearty rounds of 

In the Library — A Little Later. 
Bob {to Dormer whom he discovers asleep on a 
sofa). What, lying down, old chap ? Well, I 
must say you deserve a rest after your labours. 


Dormer {apologetically). Tramping over those 
beastly wet roots does take it out of a fellow. 
But hasn't somebody called — the Rector, wasn't 

Bob. What a chap you are ! I should jolly 
well think it was the Rector ! Joking apart, old 
man, you were simply ripping ! How on earth 
you got old Poly's voice and manner so perfectly, 
after only hearing him once, beats vie. What 
with the room being dark, and that, 1 swear 
that once or twice, when we were all rotting 
you, and being as beastly rude as we knew, I 
half thought you really were the Rector. 

Dormer {to himself). The Rector must have 
had the deuce's own time of it ! {Aloud.) I — 
I hope your mother isn't — er — doesn't ? 

Bob. The Mater ? Not she ! She was in fits. 
And as for the girls, why, they're all raving 
about you ! 

Dormer. Are they, though ? Very nice of 
them. {To himself^ I'm like Thingummy — 
I've awoke to find myself famous ! 

Bob. The way you kept it up to the very end ! 

Dormer. I'm glad you think I kept it up to 
the very end. 

Bob. Your exit was a stroke of genius. I'm 


not flattering you, old chap, it was downright 
genius. I say, you'll do old Poly for us again 
after dinner, eh ? 

Dormer. My dear fellow, I couldn't if you 
paid me. Besides, I — I'd rather, if you don't 
mind, it didn't get talked about ; it — well, it 
might be awkward^ don't you know. 

Bob [noddmg his head sapiently). I see. You 
mean, it might get round to the Rector, eh ? 

Dormer. Exactly. It might — er — get round 
to the Rector. 


In appearance it is quite an ordinary Gladstone 
— but either the cow from which it derived its 
being was exceptionally erratic in her habits, 
or else the bag is possessed by some inferior 
order of demon with an elementary sense of 

The salesman at the portmanteau-shop where 
I bought it assured me that I should find it a 
very good little bag indeed — for the price — but 
I do him the justice of believing that, like my- 
self, he was imposed upon by its extremely in- 
offensive appearance. 

I had not been on many journeys with it 
before I became indignantly aware of the gross 
carelessness with which porters on every line 
I travelled by seemed to treat luggage com- 
mitted to their charge. 

I tried taking it in the carriage with me — 
but it refused to go under the seat, while it 
was too bulky to remain long in a rack intended 

209 Q 


for light articles only, so I entrusted it to a 
porter, saw it labelled myself, and thought no 
more about it until I arrived at my destined 
station — which the bag never by any chance 
did until hours afterwards. 

It is trying at first — especially on a visit to 
comparative strangers — to enter a country-house 
drawing-room, and join a large and formal 
dinner-party in the clothes one has travelled 
down in — but I became fairly accustomed to 
it in time. Some of my fellow-guests — particu- 
larly when I met them again under precisely 
similar conditions — no doubt concluded that I 
had some conscientious objection to dress for 
dinner. Those who knew wondered at my lack 
of even sufficient intelligence to look after my 
own luggage like other people. They didn't 
lose their bags. Which was all very well — but 
I would defy them not to lose tnine. 

Yet, although I see now of course how blind 
I was, I went on blaming porters, traffic-super- 
intendents, station-masters, even myself, for 
months before it ever occurred to me to sus- 
pect the bag. How could I imagine that, 
under its sleek and stolidly respectable surface, 
it was seething with suppressed revolt, that a 


passion for liberty and independence had per- 
meated every fibre of its leather ? 

Perhaps my eyes were not even partly opened 
till one autumn, when I had been staying with 
some friends in Ayrshire. My bag had rejoined 
me there in a day or two, after running up as 
far as Inverness. So, on my way south from 
Edinburgh to York, I saw the bag with other 
luggage into a composite luggage-van, and took 
a compartment immediately adjoining it, ex- 
pressly to keep an eye upon it. 

At York an elderly guard in the van attempted 
to convince me that my luggage was at the 
other end of the train, and while I persisted in 
demanding it the argument was interrupted by 
the arrival of several huge Saratoga trunks 
which monopolised his attention. At last I 
had to get in myself, and identify my property. 
I got out all but the bag, which I could 
see, but not reach, behind a pile of other 
luggage; just then the train began to move, 
and I had to leap out to avoid being taken on 
to Peterborough. The bag, of course, went on. 

It condescended to return late the same night, 
but from that instant my confidence in it was 
shaken. I could not understand such obstinacy 


and cunning in a mere bag, nor how it had 
contrived to enlist, not only Saratoga trunks, 
but a white-bearded Scotch railway-guard, as 
its accomplices. I only felt that in future, even 
for week-end visits, I should prefer to take a 
portmanteau. It might give the impression 
that I expected to be pressed to stay longer — 
but at least we should arrive in company. And 
so the bag was condemned to inglorious idleness 
till the next summer, when, not without mis- 
givings, I decided to give it another chance by 
permitting it to accompany me and the port- 
manteau in my Continental wanderings. 

Any ordinary bag would have been touched 
by this appeal to its better feelings — mine merely 
regarded it as an opportunity to work off long 
arrears of devilry. It broke out as early as 
Paris, where I had seen my baggage registered 
for Munich and received the bulletin for it at 
the Gare de I'Est. I was roused from sleep at 
about 1.30 A.M. to go to the luggage-car and 
see it examined by the Customs officers. But 
it had spared them that trouble by inducing 
somebody to put it into the express for Carlsbad, 
and, which I minded even more, it had per- 
suaded my hitherto immaculate portmanteau to 


elope with it. They came back together in a 
day or two, and, while I thought I could see 
signs of depression, if not penitence, in the 
portmanteau, the bag maintained the demure 
calm of a cat that has taken a retriever out for 
his first poaching expedition. 

The bag, by the way, possessed a key — a 
long one with a weak profile which could never 
prevail upon it to open under a quarter of an 
hour, an embarrassing delay when crossing a 
frontier. At last it broke short off in the lock, 
and I had to send for an Italian locksmith to 
force it open — an indignity which I fear de- 
stroyed any lingering remnant of self-respect 
the bag had still retained. It would roll out 
on the platform, yawning impudently, and pro- 
ceed to disgorge articles which a more loyal 
bag would have kept to itself. Italian officials 
refused at last to register it without the pre- 
cautions of a stout rope and a leaden seal — 
which unfortunately was not stamped with the 
name of Solomon — and every time it was thus 
corded and sealed I had to pay an extra fee. 

Whenever an eye was off it for a single 
moment it escaped. It saw considerably more 
of Italy than I did myself, so much of my time 


was spent in describing its salient features to 
officials, who drew up innumerable documents 
concerning it with leisurely thoroughness. It 
returned from these escapades an absolute 
wreck ; I was obliged to have its back strength- 
ened with an iron brace, while its mouth re- 
mained as permanently open as an imbecile's. 
Still, I managed to get it safely home — though 
it very nearly contrived to return to Calais by 
the next boat from Dover. 

Since then it has been once more in peniten- 
tial retreat till this very last Christmas. Then 
— it may have been the influence of the season 
— I relented. I was spending Christmas a little 
way out of town, and I thought the bag must 
be tired of tomfoolery by that time, so I started 
with it in a hansom on that particularly foggy 
Wednesday afternoon which no Londoner who 
was out in it is likely to forget. My hansom, 
after landing me in a ciil de sac, declined to take 
me any further, so I had to get myself and the 
bag to the District Station at Victoria as well 
as I could. I was not sorry when a stranger, 
who — so much as was visible of him in the fog, 
seemed respectable enough — offered to carry it 
for me. 


I know now that he was quite honest, but I 
confess that I had my doubts of it when, after 
dismissing him at the station, I discovered that 
my confounded bag had vanished during the 
short time I was taking my ticket. I gave in- 
formation at the proper quarters, with no real 
expectation of seeing it again. It was only too 
easy for a thief to make off with it in such a 
fog, and, on the whole, I was rather relieved 
to be rid of it. For once — I chuckled to think 
— it had overreached itself in its artfulness. 

But I was mistaken. The bag turned up in 
the last place I expected to find it in — the Left 
Luggage Office. Somehow, at the moment I 
put it down by the booking office, it had 
managed to suggest to a man (who must have 
been a bit of an idiot) that it had been left 
behind by a friend of his. So he had rushed 
down below after him — only to find out his 
mistake, and hand the bag to a porter, who 
took it up to the superintendent as soon as he 
had time. Still the bag got out of coming with 
me, which was evidently its intention from the 
first. I cannot help thinking there must be 
something morbid and depraved about a bag 
which can prefer to spend its Christmas in a 


Left Luggage OfBce instead of in a cheerful 
family circle. 

After this last mortification I feel that all 
further attempts on my part to civilise a bag 
like that must be abandoned. And yet — am I 
justified in letting it loose on society ? I doubt 
it. If I presented it to a gipsy caravan, it might 
settle down with its fellow nomads. Or it might, 
out of sheer perversity, insist on tracking its way 
back to me. Is there any kind reader with a 
talent for reclaiming abandoned baggage who 
would care to adopt it ? If so, I shall be pleased 
to hand it over to any one who will undertake 
to provide it with a comfortable home. 

It mayn't be such a bad bag, if only it finds 
some one who really understands it. 


(A Society Story of Up-to-date Diablerie) 

[I DID not invent this story myself — I should 

not have dared. Nor will I pledge myself — 

even in a political sense — for it as being true 

in every particular. There is much in it that 

1 can only accept under considerable reserve ; 

there are even certain things that strike me 

as frankly incredible. However, I tell it as it 

was related to me by a communicative and 

rather seedy stranger, in the Tube between 

Shepherd's Bush and Tottenham Court Road 

Stations, on Saturday the ist of April last. 

I am able to fix the precise date, because it 

was the day I lost my pocket-book. The 

stranger began abruptly with a remark on the 

singular value of the letter " h " as a passport 

to polite society. " I happen," he said, " to 

know a rather striking instance in point, if you 

would care to hear it." Whereupon he told 

me the following narrative, for the somewhat 



inflated diction of which I must decline to be 
responsible : — ] 

"Harold Hipperholme seemed, at the time 
when I first knew him, a young man on 
whom Fortune had showered her choicest 
gifts. Of respectable, though not distinguished, 
origin, he possessed exceptional good looks, 
a commanding intelligence, considerable ac- 
complishments, and wealth that was absolutely 
phenomenal. But alas ! there was a dash of 
bitter irony in the cup of his happiness — he 
had everything — everything he could possibly 
require — except 'h's.' The unhappy young 
man had never yet succeeded in aspirating 
even his own name ! 

" For a while he could scarcely be said to 
suffer acutely from this infirmity. Indeed, 
he was scarcely conscious of it. Not till he 
became acquainted with the beautiful Lady 
Icilia Chilwell, daughter of the Earl of Stoni- 
stairs, was his deficiency brought home to him 
in all its full horror. He met her first at a 
Charity Bazaar, where she was assisting at a 
stall of fancy goods, and he fell hopelessly in 
love with her at first sight. After purchasing 
a ' toilet-tidy,' worked, as she assured him, 


by her own hands, for the sum of ten guineas, 
he had ventured to remark that 'the 'eat was 
simply 'orrible.' It struck him afterwards that 
she had shivered — but he thought nothing of 
it at the moment ; and at their next meeting 
(which took place at a Flower Show in the 
Botanical Gardens) he addressed her more 
boldly with an inquiry whether she was 'going 
to 'Urlingham that Saturday.' Once more he 
observed her shiver, but, gathering courage 
as he went on, he ended by making her a 
formal offer of his hand and heart. No doubt 
his handsome appearance and faultless attire, 
together with the fact (which he did not try 
to conceal) that he was a person of unbounded 
affluence, prevented Lady Icilia's refusal from 
being as harsh as might otherwise have been 
expected. But she made it abundantly clear 
that it zvas a refusal. Even should she herself 
have been able to overlook such an insuperable 
barrier as utter ' h '-lessness in a suitor, she 
gave him distinctly to understand that her 
haughty father, the Earl, would never permit 
her union with one to whom the very existence 
of an eighth letter of the alphabet seemed so 
entirely problematical. . . ." 


[Here I could not help remarking that I 
should hardly have thought that any aristo- 
cratic parent in these days would reject an 
aspirant as wealthy as Harold Hipperholme 
for so trifling a reason. For, though I cannot 
boast an acquaintanceship at first hand with 
any members of the nobility, I have read the 
diatribes of "Rita" and Miss Corelli, and 
have also frequently seen impecunious peers 
in society comedies welcome proposals from 
the most impossible outsiders, when sufficiently 
wealthy, with positive effusion. So that I felt 
pretty sure of my ground. The stranger, 
however, replied that my objection merely 
showed that I must temporarily have forgotten 
the extreme fastidiousness that notoriously 
characterises the House of Stonistairs. I ad- 
mitted that I had, and he resumed his 
story : — ] 

"Needless to say that Harold endeavoured 
to overcome her decision by all the eloquence 
at his command. He urged that a true heart 
could beat as faithfully without its ' h ' as with 
it. He reminded her that the very letter on 
which she laid such unnecessary stress modestly 
ignored its own existence, since it was uni- 


versally pronounced 'aitch' — not 'haitch.' All 
was in vain. Unless, or until, she told him, 
he could acquire a complete mastery of the 
elusive aspirate, he must never hope to call 
her his ! He left her with the fixed resolve 
to win her, whatever it might cost him. 

" He put himself under several professors of 
elocution. They taught him to elocute, it is 
true — but not one of them could instil a solitary 
* h ' into him, and elocution without aspirates is 
as incapable of soaring to the sublime as a 
cherub with its wings clipped ! There came an 
hour when he realised that he had exhausted 
all human aid, and that henceforth his sole 
hope lay in seeking assistance from the Powers 
of Evil ! 

" By the merest chance he saw on a railway 
bookstall a volume of one of the admirable 
< A B C ' series, entitled ' The A B C of 
the Black Art. By a Black Artist. With an 
appendix containing fifteen different formulcB 
for invoking fiends.' He purchased the book 
— for, to one of his vast means, a shilling net 
was the merest trifle — took it home, and, 
locking himself into his study, traced a penta- 
gram on the floor, as directed, and set to work 


to raise some unemployed fiend who should 
help him to attain his ends. 

*' For whole days and nights he laboured 
without conspicuous success. Occasionally some 
evil spirit with nothing worse to do would obey 
his summons, but no sooner did they hear the 
purpose for which they had been invoked, than 
(whether in disgust at its utter triviality, or to 
conceal their own incompetence) they indulged 
in demonstrations of fury so violent as almost 
to frighten him out of his wits. But the 
fifteenth and last formula produced a more 
satisfactory result. This time the fiend who 
answered his call was both less appalling of 
appearance and more obliging in disposition. 
In comparison with his predecessors he was 
almost undersized and, though inky, he was 
sympathetic and even resourceful. 

" I suppress his name for obvious reasons — 
but he seemed to see no difficulty whatever 
in the affair. According to him, all Harold 
had to do was to procure certain articles, of 
which he gave him a list, and be at a given 
spot by the following midnight. There the 
fiend undertook to meet him with a magic 
typefoundry, and together they would turn 


out as many ' h's ' as possible before cockcrow. 
It is conceivable that the fiend may have been 
inspired by reminiscences of the opera of 
Der Freischiitz. Or it may have been his own 
idea entirely. That we shall never know now ! 

"After ascertaining that he would not be 
in any way prejudicing his future prospects 
by compliance, Harold made a note of the 
appointment, and the demon left. The next 
day was spent in collecting the necessary 
skulls and braziers, &c., and, shortly after 
II P.M., Hipperholme chartered a four-wheeler 
to convey himself and his occult paraphernalia 
to the midnight rendezvous. 

"The precise spot I prefer not to indicate 
further than by mentioning that it was where 
four cross-roads met, and just outside the 
radius. You may readily believe that on that 
journey Harold's heart was not altogether 
free from apprehensions. He could not but 
be aware that proceedings which might well 
escape remark in the seclusion of a German 
forest would inevitably attract attention in a 
London suburb. Suppose he and the fiend 
were brought up before a London magistrate 
for disturbing the traffic ? What an opportunity 


for, say, Mr. Plowden ! However, after arriving 
at the cross-roads and dismissing the cab with 
an extra sixpence, he found the fiend punctually 
awaiting him with a curious contrivance, some- 
what between a cauldron and a type-casting 
machine on the Linotype principle. They set 
out a circle with the skulls and lamps and 
sundries, and then the weird labour commenced. 
But not, as Harold had anticipated, without an- 
noying interruptions — from motor-cars, market- 
waggons, nocturnal hansoms, and the like. 
Fortunately, the fiend had a short and summary 
method of dealing with tJicin. Once, at a critical 
stage in the proceedings, a constable on night 
duty came up with a request to know ' what 
they were up to ' — but the fiend explained that 
they were only relaying the gas-pipes under 
instructions from the Local Borough Council, 
and the policeman departed quite satisfied, 
after wishing them a not uncordial good- 

"And at last, well before the earliest village 
cock had shaken off his slumber, the dread 
task was accomplished. I am unable to furnish 
the exact figures of their output, but it may 
be safely estimated at several millions — a 


sufficient supply of h's to set up the most 
inveterate and conversational Cockney for 
eighteen months at the very least ! 

" I must not forget to mention that the fiend, 
before taking his leave, remarked, with a dia- 
bolical giggle to which Harold at the time was 
too elated to attach any importance, ' By the 
way, my friend, I had better warn you that 
six of those h's are "wrong 'uns ! " ' With 
which he sank through the soil, and Hipper- 
holme never saw him again. 

" But his spirits were high as he hastened 
home with his ill-gotten acquisitions. I hear 
you ask" — [I had not opened my lips, but the 
question had certainly occurred to me] — " by 
what possible process a supply of typed as- 
pirates, even from an infernal matrix, could 
be introduced into any mortal's system ? I 
can only reply that I have not the smallest 
idea — but that the assimilation undoubtedly took 
place. For no sooner had Harold reached 
his quarters than he hastened to put his new 
powers to the test. It so happened that he 
had accepted a generous offer from the Times 
to lend him their new Century Dictionary for 

a week, gratis, on approval, and he now went 



all through the h's in one of the volumes 
without a single mishap. He was just exult- 
ing over the fact when his Guardian Fairy 
unexpectedly appeared, . . ." [I suppose the 
fairy, coming so soon after the fiend, must 
have caused me to exhibit an involuntary sur- 
prise, for he immediately explained :] " You may 
or may not be aware of it — but certain indi- 
viduals do possess a Guardian Fairy, whose busi- 
ness it is, according to so distinguished an 
authority on the subject as Mr. W. S. Gilbert, 
to see that they do not get into scrapes, or to 
pull them through when they have done so. 
Hipperholme was one of these favoured persons, 
and his Guardian Fairy, on hearing his account 
of the lurid scene that had transpired at the 
cross-roads, naturally expressed strong dis- 
approval of his proceedings. She considered 
he had acted most imprudently in having any 
dealings whatever with a fiend, who was almost 
certain to do him in the long run. Harold 
replied that this one seem.ed a decent sort 
enough, and had made no attempt to bind 
him by any obligation whatever, and that, 
anyhow, he was several millions of h's to the 
good by the transaction. 


"'But I understood,' said the fairy, 'that six 
of those h's are — to use your new friend's 
sHghtly common expression — "wrong 'uns"?' 

" ' So they are,' said Harold ; ' but what are 
half-a-dozen out of all those millions ? ' 

"'Still,' she said, 'if but a single one of 
the six were to slip out in the hearing of 
Lady I cilia or her father before she has be- 
come your bride, it would suffice to undo you ! ' 

" Harold said that, according to the theory 
of probabilities, it was uncommonly long odds 
against a wrong 'un turning up at all. 

"The fairy retorted that, probabilities or no 
probabilities, he might take it from her that 
it would. 

"'In that case,' he said, 'I think you might 
have warned me before, instead of after, I had 
embarked upon such an enterprise as this.' 

" She said that it was his fault, not hers — 
for, if his previous conduct had not been so 
invariably discreet that her office was prac- 
tically a sinecure, she would never have felt 
free to take a brief holiday, during which all 
the mischief was done. ' Fortunately, how- 
ever,' she added, ' it is not too late to repair 
it — even yet. Take this talisman,' — and here 


she handed him a small crystal locket, con- 
taining a model of a ladybird coloured after 
Nature, but lacking in finish — in fact, just such 
a trinket as you may see in almost any jeweller's 
window, marked as low occasionally as eighteen- 
pence, though the price will vary accordmg to 
size. 'Take this,' she said, 'and should any 
vowel escape you at some unguarded moment 
unattended by its rightful aspirate, you have 
merely to touch your locket and all will be 
well ! ' 

" Immediately after her departure Hipper- 
holme attached the charm to his watch-chain, 
though he did not, even then, expect that he 
would ever be reduced to put its powers to 
the test. That same afternoon he repaired 
in rich apparel to the Earl's portals, and, 
giving his full name to the butler without 
the slightest effort, was ushered into Lady 
Icilia's presence. 

"At first she could scarcely credit him when 
he gave her the joyful intelligence that the 
sole obstacle to their union was now removed 
— but when she had the unspeakable happi- 
ness of hearing him triumphantly reel off a 
long string of words beginning with h, and 


including such compounds as ' hedge-hog/ 
* heart-whole/ and even * hen-house,' her last 
doubt vanished, and she acknowledged that 
he could now speak to her parent with no 
apprehension that the peppery old peer would 
summon his menials to eject him from the 

"If Hipperholme behaved with some lack 
of candour in encouraging Lady Icilia to 
believe that his proficiency was the result of 
the lessons he had taken in elocution, we 
should not condemn him too harshly on this 
account. How few of us in his situation 
would have had the moral courage to admit 
the dubious means by which such h's had 
been actually obtained ! Rightly or wrongly, 
he preserved his sinister secret to the end. 

" Lord Stonistairs, when Harold applied to 
him for his daughter's hand, consented, though 
without enthusiasm, to a trial engagement, 
which, as you will no doubt remember, was 
duly announced in the Mornijig Post. 

" But a formidable ordeal was still to be 
faced. He had to undergo inspection by Icilia's 
high-born and extremely critical relatives. For 
this purpose the Earl had invited the family 


to partake of a sumptuous and recherche high 
tea at his town residence in Belgrave Square. 

"The gathering was small but select, com- 
prising as it did Icilia's aunt, the Duchess of 
Marsaye and her daughter, Lady Fresia Ded- 
cott ; the Earl and Countess of Northpole ; 
Lord Norman Beaucoe (another cousin) ; Sir 
Basil Iske ; the Hon. Medusa Glayre ; Mrs. 
'Jack' Frost, and one or two others — all 
names that will be familiar to you, and some 
of whose owners you have probably met in 
society on more than one occasion." 

[I could not remember ever having even 
heard of any one of them — but does there 
breathe an Englishman with a soul so dead 
as to confess to ignorance of his own peerage ? 
I murmured an assent from which almost any 
inference might be drawn, and tlie stranger 
proceeded :] 

" Hipperholme was a trifle nervous at start- 
ing ; he found them rather difficult to get on 
with — in fact, they literally paralysed him. But 
Love put him, so to speak, on his mettle. He 
exerted all his considerable social powers to 
break the glacial spell, and he succeeded be- 
yond his hopes. Gradually there came a 


general thaw, until even the proud old Earl 
unbent so far as to recommend him strongly 
to have a second helping of ham and eggs, 
and to rally him, in an affable, good-humoured 
way, upon betraying some indecision on the 

"This set Harold completely at his ease: 
' Since,' he replied, with a graceful deference 
that sat well upon him, ' since your lordship 
is so pressing, I will take another poached egg 
— witJiout any more 'am.' . . . The word had 
slipped out before he could prevent it. He 
had felt so absolutely sure of that h — and it 
had turned out a 'wrong 'un ' ! 

"Already the haughty aristocrats around the 
board were perceptibly stiffening ; Lady Icilia 
had turned deadly pale ; her noble father rose, 
bristling, with the obvious intention of declaring 
the engagement 'off' — when Hipperholme sud- 
denly bethought him of the ladybird in his 
pocket. He touched it with frantic haste, and, 
as he did so, heard himself serenely finishing 
his sentence with — * biguity.' He was saved ! 
He regained his former control of aspirates, 
and by the time the powdered lackeys appeared 
to clear the table he was now fully recognised 


as one of the family. All the same, it had been 
an unpleasant shock for the moment, though 
the effect soon passed from his memory. He 
told himself that it was over, and most unlikely 
to occur again. 

" Nor did it, for several delirious weeks — 
and then, once more, he found himself on the 
very verge of a similar abyss. He had been 
invited, together with his fiancee and her father, 
to join certain members of the Smart Set in 
an excursion to Epping Forest, and the dis- 
tinguished party was driving in a brake drawn 
by four spanking steeds along an avenue of 
magnificent beeches. The sense of intimacy 
with such a company, the charm of Lady 
Icilia's society, the azure sky, the glorious 
sunshine, the surroundings generally, all con- 
tributed to render him intoxicated with sheer 
happiness. He became almost lyrical in his 

" * Oh the relief,' he exclaimed, ' the unspeak- 
able refreshment, for jaded worldlings like our- 
selves, to escape — if only for the day — from the 
fevered social round to such rural scenes as 
these ! To revel in the scent of bracken, the 
song of birds, and the 'um ' He broke off 


in horror; he had intended to say the 'hum 
of insects' — for the flies were unusually per- 
sistent that summer — but another spurious ' h ' 
had perfidiously betrayed him ! 

" ' Yes ? ' said the grim old Earl, who sat 
opposite, in a tone of sardonic encouragement. 
* Pray proceed. You were remarking, " the 
urn " ' 

" * Brageous foliage!' Harold just managed 
to gasp as he clutched his talisman — and, as 
before, the danger was averted. 

** Another interval succeeded of such absolute 
immunity that the possibility of ever again 
omitting anything so obvious as an aspirate 
seemed unthinkable. . . . And then, like a bolt 
from the blue, out came a most unmistakable 
wrong 'un ! He had arranged to escort his 
betrothed to a Gala Fete, which was one of 
the principal functions of that season, and 
which Royalty was expected to attend. It was 
at Rosherville Gardens, and Lady Icilia, having 
in a moment of caprice insisted that the party 
should go down by an ordinary penny steamer, 
Hipperholme, after arraying himself in a fault- 
less frock-coat, had, very naturally, thought it 
more prudent to put on a billycock hat as 


being less likely to blow off. When he joined 
the others on the landing-stage at Charing 
Cross, Lord Norman Beaucoe, who, as usual, 
was in a blue striped lounge suit and a tall 
white chimney-pot, permitted himself to pass 
some remark on Harold's choice of head-gear. 
It was not precisely a sneer, but sufBciently so 
to nettle Hipperholme's high spirit. 

" * I would have you to know, my lord,' he 
retorted, ' that a gentleman can look the gentle- 
man in any kind of 'at !' ... As the fatal word 
left his lips he caught the Earl's eye and his 
talisman at the same moment. 'Tire,' he con- 
cluded calmly, and the ill-concealed discom- 
fiture of Lord Norman, the milder expression 
of his uncle, and the proud glow that suffused 
the face of Lady Icilia, told him not only that 
his faux pas had been successfully obliterated, 
but that he had actually risen a step higher 
in their esteem ! 

" What wonder then if, when the date of 
their nuptials was fixed and the invitations 
issued for the ceremony, he ceased to have 
any further misgivings ? And yet, little as he 
suspected it, beneath the roses which strewed 
his path to the altar there lurked still another 


pitfall, and the moment was fast approaching 
when he would see it yawning in front of 
him — and this time ! " 

["Was, I should imagine," I put in, sup- 
pressing a tendency to imitate the pitfall, 
" exactly like the other three. If not, what 
on earth was the good of giving him a talisman 
at all?" 

" Don't be in such a hurry ! " said the 
stranger, patting me significantly on the chest 
(he had a most unpleasant habit of pawing 
me about in the course of his narrative), " Wait 
till you have heard the sequel." 

We had by this time arrived at Bond Street, 
and I dia wait for the sequel. As I was getting 
out at the British Museum, I could not very well 
help myself.] 

"You implied just now," said the voluble 
stranger, as the train glided out of Bond Street 
Station, "that, even should any further disaster 
overtake Hipperholme, the talisman given to 
him by his Guardian Fairy could safely be de- 
pended upon to extricate him. That was a very 
natural assumption on your part, and in the main 
a perfectly correct one. Under ordinary cir- 
cumstances, it is a matter of common knowledge 


that a fairy is fully a match for the average fiend. 
But such calculations are always liable to be 
upset by some trivial accident which it is totally 
impossible to foresee. As Harold was soon to 
discover : 

" He was at a brilliant evening party given 
by a certain peeress, who shall be nameless, 
at her magnificent mansion in Park Lane. The 
society craze last season, as I dare say you re- 
collect, took the form of parlour games — an 
intellectual pastime for which Harold had a 
natural aptitude, and in which he easily held 
his own against the very smartest of the Smart 
Set. That night he outshone even himself, and 
Lady Icilia (who with her father, the Earl, was 
of course among those invited) was the pleased 
recipient of many congratulations on the gentle- 
manly deportment and ready wit displayed by 
the object of her choice. At last, after repeated 
triumphs, he was required to submit himself 
to a test compared with which all previous ones 
were child's play. He had to leave the room 
while the rest of the company settled among 
themselves what celebrated historical character 
on what particular occasion he was to repre- 
sent, and it was for him to guess, if he could. 


from the cryptic remarks addressed to him by 
each of the players in turn, whom they supposed 
him to be. Very possibly you iiave played this 
game yourself ? " . . . 

[I had — and had not found it particularly 
exhilarating, though I did not consider it neces- 
sary to say so.] 

"Well, Hipperholme came in, and brought 
all the powers of his mind to bear on the prob- 
lem — but for once he found himself completely 
baffled. Nothing they said afforded him the 
faintest clue. 

" ' I must admit, my lords, ladies, and gentle- 
men,' he owned at length with a genial frank- 
ness, 'that I'm rather up the stick this time. 
I'm really afraid I must ask you to assist me 
a little by giving me just the slightest 'mt!' . . . 

" He knew what he had done, but he was 
not seriously perturbed — the talisman would get 
him out of it as usual, and instinctively his 
fingers sought his watch-chain. Judge of his 
horror when he found that the crystal locket 
was no longer there ! He searched his waist- 
coat pockets in vain — it was not in either of 
them ; he had lost it somehow ! 

" ' Just the slightest 'int/ the wretched man 


repeated mechanically, amidst a silence so in- 
tense that, had any patrician present possessed 
such a thing as a pin and allowed it to drop, 
it would assuredly have fallen with a sickening 
thud. Fortunately, this was not the case. 

" Hipperholme gazed round the semicircle in 
wild despair, as he wiped the perspiration from 
his clammy brow — and then he caught sight of 
a glittering object lying just underneath a gilded 
sofa. He dived for it frantically ; with inex- 
pressible relief he recognised his lost ladybird, 
and, as he resumed the perpendicular with the 
talisman in his clutch, the conclusion — 'erval 
for reflection ' — fell from his lips, and the in- 
tolerable strain was instantly relaxed. 

" Immediately afterwards it flashed upon him 
that he could be no other personage but King 
Harold on the occasion of being hit in the 
eye by an arrow at the Battle of Hastings — 
which proved to be perfectly correct. 

" But, even amidst the general applause that 
greeted this display of penetration, Hipperholme 
shivered at the recollection of the narrow 
squeak he had just experienced. 

** He had the fastening of the talisman re- 
paired — while he waited — at the earliest oppor- 


tunity, after which he felt himself once more 
invuhierable. To be sure, there were two more 
'wrong 'uns' to be expected — but, even if they 
did slip out before his marriage with Lady 
Icilia, it would not signify so long as he had 
the charm at hand — and he would take un- 
commonly good care not to lose sight of it in 

" When she was once his bride, he would be 
safer still. It would take more than a couple 
of defective aspirates to sever them then ! 

" As it happened, during the weeks that re- 
mained he was never once under the necessity 
of employing the talisman, a circumstance which 
so increased his sense of security that, while 
arraying himself on his wedding morn for the 
ceremony, it occurred to him that he might 
safely leave the locket on his dressing-table. 

" He had always thought it a rather cheap 
and tawdry ornament for a man of his means 
to wear ; it w^ould be an unsightly blot on the 
magnificence of his attire on this momentous 
occasion ; it w'ould not be required, since he 
could hold no conversation with either Lady 
Icilia or her parent until after the conclusion 
of the nuptials. 


" Still, he would have to say a few words in 
the vestry afterwards — and then there was the 
drive with his bride from the church, and the 
wedding breakfast. Perhaps it would be wisest 
to avoid all risks. So, for the present, at all 
events, he decided to allow the locket to remain 
on his watch-chain. 

"The wedding was at St. George's, Hanover 
Square, which was crowded to suffocation by 
persons of rank, commoners finding it hopeless 
to obtain admittance, and the vergers being 
compelled to turn even Countesses away ! 

" Harold, with Lord Norman Beaucoe as his 
best man, stood by the altar, awaiting the arrival 
of the bridal cortege, and, as he heard the society 
small talk behind him drowning even the peal- 
ing notes of the organ, his bosom swelled with 
a satisfaction that made him entirely oblivious 
of the fact that he owed the proud position in 
which he stood to a fiend of the most plebeian 

"And then — preceded by the choir, and fol- 
lowed by eight bridesmaids, all ladies of title, 
and wearing costly diamond brooches in the 
form of two interlaced h's, the gift of the bride- 
groom — Lady Icilia Chilwell came slowly up the 


centre aisle, leaning on the arm of her father, 
the Earl of Stonistairs, and the ceremony com- 

" It was conducted by the Bishop of Mumble- 
borough, assisted by several of the minor clergy, 
and, as the venerable prelate, in accents almost 
inaudible with emotion, dictated the responses, 
the happy bridegroom repeated them in tones 
as full as was his heart. *To have and to 
hold,' quavered the good old Bishop — and 
through the sacred edifice Harold's resonant 
voice rang out like a clarion call: 'To 'ave 
and to 'old ! ' 

" I can only qualify the result as electrical. 
Never before, perhaps, had that aristocratic fane 
heard the aspirate treated with such appalling 
irreverence ; the walls seemed to rock, strong 
men grew pale, the very choristers were visibly 
concerned, the Bishop was struck dumb, while 
Lady Icilia, withdrawing her hand from Harold, 
shrank from him with a movement of uncontrol- 
lable repulsion, 

" Hipperholme alone preserved his composure. 
He felt that he could hardly have dropped two 
h's at a more unpropitious moment — but fortu- 
nately the matter could easily be set right. How 


lucky that he had not followed his first impulse 
and left his ladybird at home ! He fingered the 
talisman with confidence. 

"To his indescribable dismay it failed him 
for the first time ! He could not believe it at 
first, could not understand how such a thing 
could have happened. And then the terrible 
truth dawned upon him. It was useless to ex- 
pect the talisman to aid him there. Not even 
a fairy could venture to introduce any additions 
to the marriage service. What he had said he 
had said ! 

" Lady Icilia had already collapsed — a mere 
heap of white satin, Brussels lace, and orange 
blossom — into the arms of her principal brides- 
maid, the Earl had stepped forward and held 
a whispered colloquy with the Bishop, who 
seemed to agree with him that the ceremony 
could not proceed, as Harold rushed madly 
from the building, bareheaded, for he had re- 
signed his hat to Lord Norman Beaucoe. And, 
at the moment he gained the portico, and was 
descending the steps into George Street, he 
heard a malicious snigger, which seemed to 
come from the telephone wires overhead, and 
a voice he remembered but too well cried out 


with shrill derision: 'What did I tell you? 
Six of 'em wrong 'uns I ' 

''The fairy knew more about hends than he 
did, after all. They were not to be trusted ! " 

" But surely," I said, as we ran into the next 
station, " that isn't the end of the story ? The 
fairy couldn't possibly leave him in such a fix 
as that. Or why have a Guardian Fairy at all ? " 

"You are right," he said impressively, pat- 
ting me with approval on the chest ; "absolutely 
right ! That is 7wt the end. The finale is 
singular, but satisfactory, as you are about to 
hear. . . . But, bless me, this is Tottenham 
Court Road ! I'm afraid I must bid you fare- 
well, with many thanks foi your courteous 
attention. I get out here." 

And he did — so I missed the finale. It was 
not till I reached the British Museum that I 
missed my pocket-book. 


(An Object-lesson for would-be Playwn'ghfs) 

Scene — 7 Vie interior of the Vacuity Theatre^ 
which is to open shortly under the manage- 
ment of that enterprisijig a?td popular young 
actor, Mr. SIDNEY Sangwin. Time — The 
fag-end of a November afternoon. On the 
stage — which is lit by a feiv electric lights 
in the flies, and is bare, except for sundry 
pieces of furniture placed to mark the entrances 
— the rehearsal of ^' A House of Cards," the 
comedy by a hitherto unacted dramatist with 
which Mr, S. S. Jias decided to tempt Fortune, 
is slowly dragging to a close. 

Mr, Aikenhead, the author, is seated in an un- 
shrouded section of the stalls, drearily wonder- 
ing hoiv he could ever have deluded himself 
into a belief that his dialogue was humorous. 
Next to him is MiSS Ardleigh, who, not 
being on in the final act, is kindly endeavour- 
ing to relieve his obvious depression. 

Miss Ardleigh {referring to her part — a 
haronefs wife who has been on the music-hall 
stage). The on'y thing I'm afraid of is that 


I shall be too refined in it — that's reely how 
I feel ! (Mr. A. hastens to reassure her on this 
score.) Oh, it's very sweet of you to say so, 
I'm sure — and of course it's wonderful what 
one can do with technique — still, vulgarity 
doesn't seem to come easy to me, somehow. 
I should love to play Lady Cynthia. Now, 
Miss Daintrey — well, I don't know what you 
think — but to me, her style isn't distangay 
enough, — she seems to fall just short of the 
real lady, if you understand my meaning ! 

Mr. Aikenhead {for whom Miss Phyllis 
Daintrey is the one bright star in his clouded 
horizon). Afraid I can't agree with you — Miss 
Daintrey is everything I could wish. 

Miss A. Well, if yoiixQ. satisfied, that's every- 
thing, isn't it ? But I'm understudying her, as 
p'raps you know, so, if anything should occur 
to prevent her playing 

Mr, a, {watching Miss DAINTREY, as she looks 
on with a charmingly amused smile during a pro- 
tracted wrangle over a ^^ cross" which is not down 
in the prompter'' s book, and inwardly congratulating 
himself upon her evidently perfect health). Miss 
Daintrey doesn't look as if she was going to 
break down just yet. 


Miss A. It was on'y something she said to 
me this morning. But, as I told her, " My dear 
girl^' I said, " when you've been ten years 
longer in the profession you can begin to 
pick and choose. You don't hear me grum- 
bling," I said, "and yet, look at my part com- 
pared to yours ! " And such lovely frocks as 
she'll have, too ! 1 don't know what more 
she wants, I'm sure! 

\The rehearsal comes to an end. 

Mr. Sangwin {on stage). We'll take the first 
act to-morrow at eleven sharp, please, and I do 
hope some of you will be better up in your 
words by then. At present the only person 
who rehearses without the script in her hand 
is Miss Daintrey. You really must buck up 
a bit! 

Mr. Stiltney Bellairs. Dear old boy, what 
is the use of studying till we get our scenery ? 
Only means beginning all over again when it 
comes. Thought it was promised for last week 
— and here we are, still messin' about ! 

\^Sympathetic murmurs from the Company. 

Mr. S. S. We'll get it in time, old chap. 
They're all rather elaborate sets, but old 
Dawbler thinks he can get the first act up 


by next P>iday. {To Miss Daintrey) Eh? 
Certainly, dear — just step up into my room — 
I'll be there in half a jiff. {To Mr. A. as 
Miss D. departs) Just a word with you, Aiken- 
head, my boy. (Mr. A. finds his way through 
the proscenium door on to the stage.) Well, it's 
beginning to shape a bit better, eh ? The 
only thing it wants now is — but I'll talk to 
you about that presently, when I've settled 
things with Miss Daintrey — it's about time 
she signed her contract. 

Mr. a. {aghast). Why, hasn't she done that 

Mr. S. S. No, asked for time to think over 
it — several of 'em did, you know. But I'm 
not going to stand any more shilly-shallying. 
I'll run up and make sure of her — don't go 
away till I see you. \^He bustles off. 

Miss Nurosa Reckitt {intercepting Mr. a.). 
Mr. Aikenhead, I must speak to you, I simply 
must! I'm absolutely in despair about my 
part! I feel I can do nothing with it — nothing! 
I'm merely a " feeder " to Miss Nasmyth. She 
crushes me whenever we're on the stage to- 
gether — I'm nowhere ! 

Mr. a. But I assure you, Miss Reckitt, you're 


quite admirable. I'm perfectly satisfied — per- 
fectly ! 

Miss R. {with dignity). I hope, Mr. Aiken- 
head, I am capable of satisfying any author. 
I ought to be with all my experience. But 
{becoming agitated again) I cant make bricks 
without straw. If I might speak my Hnes with 
a stutter — anything — anything in the world to 
put a litte colour into them ! If not, I shall 

have to consider very seriously whether 

\She goes off with a gulp of repressed 

Mr. Ravensnell. Another rocky rehearsal, 
Mr. Aikenhead ! 'Pon my soul, I think things 
get worse instead of better ! Most of 'em as 
fluffy as feather beds ! Though your lines, if 
you'll pardon my frankness, sir, are difficult 
to get round the tongue — writing for the stage 
has to be learnt, like everything else. But it's 
the slackness everywhere that / complain of. 
A dear good fellow, old Sidney, but no 
disciplinarian. Lets 'em do whatever they 
please. I don't know if you remarked it, but 
the tag was actually spoken to-day at rehearsal ! 
That's always supposed, as you are probably 
aware, to bring bad luck. All superstition, of 


course. Though I'm bound to say that, in my 
experience, I've never known it fail. By-the- 
bye, do you think that " Dumb-Crambo " scene 
in the second act will go ? Don't see your 
way to cutting it out, I suppose ? 

Mr. a. No, I think it will be all right when 
it's worked up. And it's never been done on 
the stage. 

Mr. R. There you're mistaken, sir. It was 
done two years ago at the Nullity, in a piece 
called A Flash in the Pan. I remember it ran 
just a week. I happen to know because I was in 
the cast. I thought it as well to mention it. 

\He shuffles away as Mr. Stiltney 
Bellairs approaches. 

Mr. S. B. I say, Mr. Aikenhead, I wish you'd 
let me leave out a line in the last act. It's no 
use to me, and it strikes me as a bit dangerous. 
I mean where I say, "Well, 1 call this thunderin' 
rot ! " Gives the gallery such a chance, don't 
you know ! 

\0n reflection, Mr. A. consents to this 

Mr. Pettipher [who is on for about five minutes 
in the first act). One moment, Mr. Aikenhead. 
How would you wish me to make up for Captain 


Guestling, now ? For instance, what is the pre- 
cise shade of wig you have in ^^our mind's eye ? 

Mr. A. [conscious of utter vacancy in that organ). 
Well, I hardly — need you wear a wig at all ? 

Mr. p. Played in my own hair, sir, the 
character would never come out. I was think- 
ing that a chestnut wig, not too light — and what 
would you say, now, to a chintuft ? 

Mr. a. [with a forlorn attetnpt at jocularity). 
Wouldn't that rather depend on what the chin- 
tuft said to me ? 

Mr. p. [luith solenmity). I beg you will not 
treat this matter in a spirit of flippancy, sir. 
My one anxiety is to realise my author's con- 
ception, — and there's really nothing in the lines 
themselves for me to build up a character upon 
or I wouldn't trouble you. I see him myself 
as a sort of man-about-town, with a chintuft, 
and, I think, spats would complete the costume ? 
Then I may take it you agree to spats ? Now, 
regarding the colour. Should they be white, 
or drab ? I possess both. Perhaps drab would 
be more in keeping ? Vv\)uld you have a white 
edging to his waistcoat ? Well, we can discuss 
that question to-morrow. 

{^He makes way for Mr. Newgass. 


Mr. Newgass. Oh, I've thought out rather 
a good bit of business for my entrance in the 
second act. How would it be if I took the 
butler for the old Earl and shook hands, and 
asked him to present me to Lady Cynthia, eh ? 

\He chuckles. 

Mr. a. Afraid it would be rather forced. You 
see, the butler has just shown you in, and, 
besides, you've met Lord Livipsfield already. 

Mr. N. But I might be short-sighted — eyeglass 
worked down the back of my neck — frantic 
search for it, and all that. . . . Well, of course 
your wishes are paramount — but it would be 
a big laugh — and if you don't mind my saying 
so, that's what the piece wants I However, since 
you don't accept my suggestion, I say no more. 

\He goes off in a huff. 

Mr. Ion Selfe. We're pulling it together, 
Mr. Aikenhead, pulling it together — by degrees. 
But you'll have to cut a good half-hour out 
of it yet I 

Mr. a. [thinking he has cut several out of it 
already). I might shorten the scene between 
you and Limpsfiehi, perhaps, and your soliloquy 
after reading the letter. I don't see what else 
I can do. 


Mr. I. S. {with a falling jaw). Mark my words, 
sir. If you touch a word of my part — in the 
way of compression — you ruin your play. I 
should say just the same if I was playing any 
other part. Where the piece drags, where it's 
let down, is precisely in those scenes where 
I'm 7iot on. Shorten those, give me a little 
more to do in the last act, let me go off just 
before the curtain, instead of ten minutes earlier, 
and it's a dead cert ! Otherwise, it's my deliber- 
ate opinion, sir, that we're in for a record frost. 
Now I've got that off my chest I feel happier ! 

\He stalks away with the air of a Sibyl. 

In the Vestibule — A Little Later. 

Mr. Sidney Sangwin. Oh, there you are, 
Aikenhead ! . . . Miss Daintrey ? What, haven't 
you seen her ? She wanted to speak to you 
before she went, I know. . . . Well, no, she 
hasn't signed her contract — not exactly. In 
fact, she's rather thrown us over . . . Yes, it 
is a nuisance, of course — but it can't be helped. 
... I did my best, old chap ! . . . No, only that, 
on consideration, she didn't think it quite worth 
her while. Pretty little part enough — if she'd 


only see it ! . . . Oh, that Ardleigh girl won't 
be half bad as Lady Cynthia / . . . I don't say 
she is — but she'll look quite young enough at 
night, and Phyllis's frocks can be altered to 
fit her. . . . My dear fellow, there's no time to 
get anybody else in now — and she's up in the 
part. . . . Well, we may have to alter the cast 
a bit, but they're getting used to that by now. 
. . . Don't you worry — we're going to come 
out on top all right — and let me see, there was 
something I wanted to say to you. Ah yes, look 
here, I wish you'd take this script home with you 
and just run through the dialogue again. . . . 
No, no, capital, Ai, old boy! I only thought 
that, if you could see your way to working in 
a smart line here and there, don't you know — 
well, it wouldn't do any harm, eh ? 

[Mr. a. goes home to give these finishing 
touches with all the verve and freshness 
that can reasonably be anticipated. 


A WORTHIER and more estimable young man 
than Spencer Primmett it would have been 
difficult to find in the whole of London. He 
was in one of the Government Departments, in 
which he occupied an exceptionally good posi- 
tion for one of his years, while he was also in 
enjoyment of a very comfortable private income. 

His principal ambition was to eschew any 
conduct which might possibly have the effect of 
rendering him conspicuous, in which laudable 
object he had so far succeeded admirably. 

There was nothing whatever remarkable about 
his countenance, which was mild and rather 
round; or his demeanour, which was correct 
without assumption; or his opinions, which 
were those of all well-regulated persons. 

Wherefore mothers and chaperons generally 
regarded him with favour as a highly eligible 
parti — a fact of which he was modestly but fully 


He had indeed but one defect, and that of 
so gradual a growth that he was pardonable 
for being the last to perceive it. He was ex- 
cessively near-sighted. For some time it had 
struck him more and more forcibly that the 
British climate was becoming mistier than at 
any previous period in his recollection, and 
he was surprised that none of his friends and 
acquaintances were observant enough to notice 
so obvious an atmospherical deterioration. 

But there came an afternoon when Spencer 
Primmett was compelled to admit that his own 
observation was less acute than he had imagined. 
For while paying a call — a social duty which 
he was ever punctilious in discharging — on the 
Bellinghams in Cornwall Gardens, he was not 
a little mortified by the discovery that he had 
been wasting much time and many blandish- 
ments in a futile endeavour to induce a foot- 
stool to sit up and beg for a biscuit. 

This led him to infer that there might be 
some slight imperfection in his eyesight, which, 
to avoid all chance of some really ludicrous 
blunder, he would do well to rectify by pur- 
chasing an eyeglass. 

He had another and even stronger motive 


for taking such a step. Hilda and Rhoda 
Bellingham were both extremely attractive girls, 
and of late his thoughts had begun to dwell, 
not unpleasingly, upon the possibility of his 
falling in love with one of them. But which ? 
For the life of him he could not determine, 
being by no means sure, now that he came to 
consider, whether he had ever seen either at 
all distinctly. 

Ordinary prudence suggested that it would 
be advisable to be better acquainted with the 
features of each before committing himself by 
any definite advances to either. It would be a 
pity to find out, when it was too late to retract, 
that he had pledged himself to the plainer of 
the two. 

So he tried several opticians in turn, but none 
of them had an eyeglass, or even a pince-nez, in 
stock that could do anything more than increase 
the dimness of his natural sight, and at last he 
took the course which he should have taken 
at first, and consulted a leading oculist. 

After a prolonged examination, the oculist in- 
formed him that he was " abnormally astigmatic," 
which seems a harsh thing for any man to say 
of a fellow-creature. 


However, he wrote him out a prescription for 
a pair of special glasses of differing powers, and 
this Spencer took to be made up by the firm 
to whom he was recommended. 

A few days afterwards, on returning from 
Whitehall to his rooms, he found awaiting him a 
neat little parcel containing a pair of spectacles, 
and accompanied by the account, which came 
to more than he had anticipated. He would 
have preferred, too, a pair of pince-nez to 
spectacles, which he knew have a tendency to 
add years without the corresponding experience, 
and it was not without anxiety that he fitted 
them on and inspected himself in a hand-glass 
which lay on his dressing-table. 

It was a considerable relief to him to find 
that they were not by any means unbecoming. 
Indeed, his eyes, now that they were framed 
and glazed, as it were, looked larger and more 
brilliant ; the glasses gave him an air of higher 
intelligence and deeper thoughtfulness than he 
had previously discerned in his expression, while 
they were so light and so easily adjusted that he 
was scarcely aware of having them on. 

But it was less from vanity than an un- 
controllable impatience to see what the Miss 


Bellinghams were really like that he called a 
hansom and gave the address of Cornwall 

As he drove westward, facing the sunset sky, 
he was delightfully conscious of the extraordinary 
degree to which his powers of vision had im- 
proved. No longer was the sun a mere scarlet 
blur for him, but a clear golden disc surrounded 
by mauve and crimson clouds, while more 
immediate objects had become defined with 
a sharpness that revealed much that hitherto 
would have altogether escaped him. 

For instance, he remarked for the first time 
the singular incompetency of London cabmen, 
evidenced by the fact that the drivers of almost 
all the hansoms he met seemed to have the 
greatest difficulty in controlling their horses. It 
impressed him as an additional proof of the 
decadence in our national character. 

Fortunately his own cabman was an exception 
to the general rule, and brought him to his 
destination without mishap. 

Spencer learnt on inquiry that Mrs. Belling- 
ham was at home, and he followed the butler 
upstairs to the drawing-room with a thrill of 
excitement. For he might find the daughters 


of the house there as well, and then he would 
know at last whether it was Hilda or Rhoda 
who would prove to be his actual enchantress. 

They were at home, as it happened, and 
greeted him with a cordiality sufficiently charm- 
ing to remove all doubt, had he felt any, which 
he did not, of the gratification he was affording 
them. He accepted a cup of tea and a seat by 
the fire, and, as often and intently as he could 
without infringing the ordinary rules of good 
breeding, he studied the features of the two 
graceful girls who sat opposite to him in the 
lamplight. Thanks to his recent acquisition, he 
could now see them perfectly, and was delighted 
to find that they surpassed all his previous 

Even then he had as much difficulty as ever 
in making up his mind which of the two was 
the more irresistibly engaging, they were both 
so adorably pretty in their different styles ; but 
at least he saw now that there was a difference. 

So he sat there talking — rather pleasantly, he 
thought — to all three ladies, with the sense that 
he was making an increasingly favourable im- 
pression. Indeed, before long he began to fear 
that he was inspiring a deeper sentiment in 


both the Miss Belhnghams than he had any 
right or intention to do at that stage of their 

Without being unduly conceited, he could 
not help observing that, whenever he turned 
to address Miss Bellingham, she regarded him 
with a kind of spellbound subjection closely re- 
sembling fascination ; whereas Miss Rhoda, on 
the other hand, seemed powerless to meet his 
eye at all. 

These were trifles, no doubt, — but not without 
significance. He was wondering whether he 
had not better go, when the dog, which had 
been previously snoring soundly in its basket, 
created a diversion by waking up and coming 
out for its usual saucer of weak and milky 

This time Spencer made no mistake ; he knew 
it was not a footstool, or even a door-mat, but 
a Maltese terrier a trifle out of condition. So 
he beamed upon it with affable recognition, 
and called it by its name, which was " Lulu." 
But instead of responding to his advances, the 
animal uttered a sharp howl and fled into the 
back drawing-room with every sign of abject 


Spencer said he could not understand it, as 
he generally got on so well with dogs, and the 
Bellinghams agreed that it was most unaccount- 
able, and began to talk of something else. 

But somehow the incident caused a certain 
constraint. Hilda and Rhoda chattered on, it 
was true, but in rather a random and desultory 
manner, while their mother's silence was marked 
by a want of repose which was unusual in one 
so essentially a woman of the world. 

So he cut short his visit, after staying little 
more than an hour, heartily wishing that the 
dog had not chosen to make such a fool of 
itself, just when things were going so well. 

On thinking over it afterwards, he recalled 
sundry symptoms which almost led him to the 
distressing conclusion that the Bellingham family 
was inclined to be slightly hysterical. 

Spencer had forgotten that he had to dine 
out that evening at a house in Lancaster Gate, 
and did not get back to his rooms until just 
before eight, which obliged him to dress in 
frantic haste. Even then he arrived quite a 
quarter of an hour after everybody else, so that 
he could hardly expect anything but the chilling 
reception which he certainly got. 


He was consoled, however, by the discovery 
that the Bellinghams were among the guests, 
and that it would be his privilege to take Miss 
Bellingham in to dinner. He would have been 
equally pleased had she been her sister, for 
both were looking more bewitching than ever 
in those brilliantly-lighted rooms. 

Still, as he advanced eagerly to claim her, he 
felt at once that something had come between 
them ; he distinctly noticed her fhnch, as though 
with repressed aversion, as he offered her his 
arm with a playful allusion to his good fortune. 

And when they were seated at the dinner- 
table, on which innumerable electric lamps, 
artistically disposed around the walls, shed a 
soft but still dazzling radiance, he could not 
feast his eyes on her face so constantly as he 
desired and expected, for the reason that she 
seldom looked at him in speaking, and then only 
by an obvious effort. Was it merely his dis- 
ordered fancy, or did she invariably turn away 
her head on such occasions with something 
suspiciously like a shudder ? 

At the first opportunity she turned away from 
him altogether to enter into an animated con- 
versation with her right-hand neighbour, leaving 


him with nothing of her to contemplate except 
her left shoulder till dessert. 

He tried his other neighbour, but she was 
anything but forthcoming, and after one or two 
perfunctory replies, evidently preferred to be 
entertained by her allotted partner. 

So, in his utter isolation, Spencer was free to 
let his thoughts dwell on Miss Rhoda, who was 
seated exactly opposite. He wished now that 
it had been she who had fallen to his lot ; she 
would not have treated him, he was sure, with 
this inexcusable caprice, she was much too kind- 
hearted, and, besides, she was quite as pretty as 
Hilda, if not actually prettier. 

He directed a glance of half-humorous, half- 
melancholy appeal for sympathy across the table 
at her, which he intended should establish a 
secret bond of intelligence between them, but 
he found an unexpected difficulty in catching 
her eye. Even when he succeeded in doing so, 
he only knew it because he saw her start and 
bite her lower lip hard, as if to control some 
rising emotion which too obviously was not 
maidenly confusion, since she neither blushed 
nor accorded him the discreetest smile of recog- 


What in the world was the matter with them 
both ? It was impossible that he could have 
done anything since that afternoon to account 
for the change in their conduct. Surely they 
could not be influenced by the fact that that 
little overfed beast of a terrier of theirs had 
exhibited a perfectly unreasonable antipathy to 
him ! He had thought modern young women 
possessed more common-sense. 

And presently it was apparent to him, as he 
allowed his eyes to wander idly round the table, 
that he must be generally unpopular — or how 
was it that every face on which his gaze casually 
lighted seemed to freeze instantly into petrifac- 
tion ? He had arrived a little late, he knew, 
but, hang it all ! he could not think he had 
spoilt the dinner so much as all that! And 
even if he had, it was most unchristian of 
them to carry unforgiveness further than the 
fish ! It was horrible to sit there, feeling 
like an apologetic skeleton. He had never 
felt less at home at a dinner-party in all his 

Even on rising, Rhoda had no look nor word 
for him, and, as soon as the ladies had departed, 
Mr. Bellingham began to tell a story that gave 


every promise of lasting for a considerable 

Spencer had never met him before, and, had 
he been the parent of anybody but Hilda and 
Rhoda, might have been tempted to regard him 
as an insufferable old bore. As it was, in his 
anxiety to propitiate at least one member of 
the family, he leaned forward, drinking in every 
detail of the narrative with an air of absorbed 
and eager interest which was perhaps a little 

At all events, he did not propitiate the old 
gentleman — he merely put him out. For Mr. 
Bellingham grew more and more uneasy under 
Spencer's ardent attention, until at length he 
brought his monologue to a lame and evidently 
premature conclusion. 

Primmett made really heroic efforts during 
the awkward silences that ensued to put the 
company at their ease by throwing out in- 
telligent remarks from time to time on some 
topic of the day. But, although he was con- 
fident that he said nothing that was not perfectly 
safe in any gathering, somehow his blameless 
platitudes seemed to burst on his hearers like 
bombshells. Every one appeared to have a 


positive dread of being drawn into conversa- 
tion with him. He noticed those he addressed 
directly blinking nervously as they returned 
some monosyllabic reply, w^hile others evaded 
his advances by studiously looking in any other 
direction but his own. 

He affected the nerves of the very servants, 
for, as he turned towards a footman who was 
offering him coffee, the man suddenly let the 
tray fall with a crash. 

Spencer was glad when the host proposed 
that they should go upstairs, though, even when 
he reached the drawing-room, he was no 
happier. Before he could obtain the explana- 
tion for which he was hoping from Rhoda or 
Hilda, he was introduced to two or three older 
ladies, all of whom responded to his agreeable 
nothings with absent minds and roving eyes, 
and before he could escape from these com- 
pulsory amenities, he had the misery of seeing 
the Bellinghams take their leave. 

He left himself as soon afterwards as he was 
able, and it struck him that his hostess was 
almost indecently glad to get rid of him. 

Spencer walked back to his rooms in a piti- 
able frame of mind. He was conscious of 


having shed a kind of blight on the whole 
dinner-party — but how or why he was at a loss 
to imagine. 

Was there, unknown to him, some discredit- 
able rumour in circulation with regard to his 
private character ? But that was impossible, 
for his conscience assured him that he had 
done nothing that could have given occasion 
for the slightest scandal. 

Then why — why did the BeUinghams and 
everybody else shrink from him as though he 
were some accursed thing ? Was he to go 
through life henceforth as an object of uni- 
versal repugnance — he, who by nature was so 
eminently sociable and desirous of winning 
esteem ? Would he never find any one to 
look him in the face again with the old 
friendliness and approval ? If so, it seemed 
hard that he should not even know why this 
fate had befallen him ! 

Still gloomily pondering over his probable 
future, he regained his sitting-room, where, rest- 
ing his elbow upon the mantelpiece, he stood 
staring hopelessly down at the cheerily burning 

Suddenly, on looking up, he beheld his own 


reflection in the bevelled mirror of the over- 
mantel, and recoiled in positive terror. 

For the eyes that met his own were no human 
eyes — they were two glowing caverns in which 
flickered lurid flames, as though his brain were 
being slowly consumed by an infernal fire ! 

The eff^ect was simply appalling. He realised 
at once that no man with such eyes as those 
could ever hope to inspire the object of his 
affection with any feelings but instinctive dis- 
trust, and even horror. Gaze at her as tenderly 
and pleadingly as he might, it was impossible 
to prevent his ardour from impressing her as 
unpleasantly volcanic. 

And yet, how could he have been thus trans- 
formed into a fiend of peculiarly repulsive aspect 
without being even aware of the process ? 

Then all at once he remembered his spec- 
tacles. They fitted him so comfortably that 
after he had once grown accustomed to the 
improvement in his sight, he had ungratefully 
forgotten their very existence. However, he 
found that he was still wearing them. 

Was it just barely possible that they — He re- 
moved them hurriedly, and, on closely approach- 
ing the mirror, discovered with inexpressible 


relief that his eyes were no longer ilkimined by 
their former baleful glare. 

He put them on once more, and, placing a 
lamp between himself and the mirror, observed 
the result at some distance. The right lens 
was slightly concave, and threw rays as blinding 
as those of a search-light, while the left, which 
was convex, blazed like some illuminated globe 
of distilled water in a chemist's window ! 

After repeated experiments, he ascertained 
that — to himself at least — this disquieting 
phenomenon was apparent in the mirror only 
when a strong artificial light struck his spec- 
tacles at particular angles of refraction, which 
accounted for his failure to notice it by day- 
light, or even while dressing for dinner. 

But he had no difficulty in understanding 
now why the cab-horses had shied that after- 
noon as his spectacles reflected all the glories 
of the sunset ; why the Bellinghams' dog had 
fled in dismay from the unearthly radiance of his 
eyes, and the Bellinghams themselves had been 
so susceptible to their mesmeric influence ; or 
why, in short, throughout that fearful evening 
he had been innocently producing the effect 
of a human basilisk or a Medusa head ! 


He felt he could not go about doing that any 
more — it made him altogether too remarkable. 

And so, in another instant he had torn those 
costly but perifidious spectacles from his ears, 
and ground the glasses to splinters under his 
heel. . . . 

Since that day he has not had the courage 
to try any others — but he is rewarded for his 
sacrifice by the knowledge that he can now 
permit his eyes to rest on both the Miss Belling- 
hams without reducing them to a cataleptic 
condition. The only drawback is that he is as 
unable as ever to distinguish one from the 

Which is possibly the reason why there has 
been no intimation, as yet, of his engagement 
to either. 


Scene — A Corridor m the Hotel Magnifique. 
Time — About 11.30 p.m. Sydney Shel- 
CASTLE, a diffide7tt young Dramatist whose 
first Comedy, " Facing the Music, ^^ has been 
produced that evening at the Jollity Theatre, 
is discovered in the act of giving hat and coat 
to an attejidant. 

Sydney Shelcastle. Er — Mr. Berkeley Carl- 
ton expects me. I believe he has a supper-party 
here ? 

Attendant. Quite correct, sir. Straight 
down the corridor and third door on the left. 
Syd. Shel. {to himself). Almost wish I'd gone 
to the Jollity first. {As he reaches door of private 
supper-room) However, I shall soon know now I 
\_?Ie pulls himself together and enters; the 
only persons in the room as yet are his 
host, Berkeley Carlton, the popidar 
Actor- Manager ; HoRSLEY COLLARD, 
who plays the chief cJiaracter-part in his 
piece ; and Spkatt-Whaley, the lessee 
of the follity. The first two greet his 
arrival with a heartiness which strikes 
Jiim as overdone. 


Syd. Shel. Well ? Did it— did it go off all 
right ? 

Berkeley Carlton {raising his eyebrows). 
" Did it go off all right ? " Why — weren't you 
in front ? 

Syd. Shel. {embarrassed). Well — a — no. I 
didn't feel quite equal to it. ( Watching their 
faces) I hope it wasn't ? 

HORSLEY COLLARD [with a glance at CARLTON 
which does not escape the Dramatist). Haven't 
you heard anything ? 

Syd. Shel. Not a word. I — I haven't met 
anybody who could tell me. I came straight 

Berk. Carlt. Been strollin' up and down 
the Embankment to pass the time, eh ? 

Syd. Shel. No,— as a matter of fact I went to 
the Hippodrome. 

Berk. Carlt. Did you, though ? What did 
you think of the show ? 

Syd. Shel. Capital ! That is, I didn't pay 
much attention to it — wondering all the time 
how Facing the Music was getting on. 

Berk. Carlt. Ah ? Glad you gave us a 
thought now and then. I say, Horsley, know 
whether Angela Daventry means to turn up ? 


HORS. Coll. Can't say. She may be feeling 
too upset. Perhaps I'd better go and see where 
the others are. {To Berkeley Carlton, in a 
too audible undertone) I'll leave you to break it 
to the poor chap while I'm gone. \He goes out. 
Berk. Caret. Well, Shelcastle, you seem to 
have spent a pleasant evenin' anyhow. Always 
amusin' beggars, elephants. And these plunge, 
don't they ? By the way, you don't know 
Spratt-Whaley. {He introduces them.) He's just 
been tellin' us all about his new motor-car. 

\_The unhappy Playwright strives to affect an 
interest in automobiles, while wishing 
that Carlton would not be so con- 
foundedly tactful — until HORSLEY 
Collard returns with the other in- 
vited members of the Co7npany, who 
are obviously putting considerable re- 
straint on themselves. 
Miss Angela Daventry {the extremely charm- 
ing and sympathetic actress who impersonates S.'s 
heroine). Good evening, Mr. Shelcastle. I hear 
you didn't patronise our poor little efforts to- 
night. Oh, we quite understood. And we all 
think it so wise of you. {She approaches the fire- 
place^ Br-r-r ! Isn't it cold ! I'm sure there's 

a frost to-night ! 



Miss Daisy Archbutt {engaged for the light 
comedy part). Oh, my dear ! For goodness' sake 
don't mention frosts ! Before poor dear Mr. 
Shelcastle, too ! 

Hawley Bray [whose forte is Society idiots). 
I say, you know. Now you have done it ! If 
you hadn't said that, Mr. Shelcastle wouldn't 
have been any the wiser — he wasn't there. 

Mrs. Chesterfield Manners [the Dowager 
in S.'s play). I'm afraid it must have been an 
effort for you to give us the pleasure of seeing 
you at all this evening, Mr. Shelcastle — under 
the circumstances ! 

Syd. Shel. Well, you see, Mrs. Manners, 
when I came here I hadn't heard — in fact, I 
don't know anything definite even now — though 
I — I gather 

HORSLEY COLLARD [compassionately). Now, my 
dear old chap, do take a tip from me. Don't 
you spoil your supper by trying to gather any 
more. Be jolly while you may ! 

Angela Dav. But you will spoil his supper. 
It isn't fair to keep him in suspense like this ! 

Berk. Carlt. Don't fuss, dear. You leave 
it to us. He'll find out quite soon enough — 
and now let's have supper. [They sit down. 


Syd. Shel. {who is seated next to Daisy 
Archbutt). Yoii might just tell me this, Miss 
Archbutt — was there — was there 7nuch of a row ? 

Daisy {tuith a giggle). I — I really shouldn't 
like to say, Mr. Shelcastle. But in the last act 
you might have fancied you were in church — 
so much coughing, you know ! 

[Hawley 'Bra^ gufaws suddenly. 

Syd. Shel. I was always afraid of that last 
act. But — it didn't all drag, eh ? 

HORS. Coll. Not while / was on, old man. 
I took care of that. I hate gagging as a general 
rule — inartistic, / call it. But I simply had to 
bring in a wheeze now and then — just to keep 
the gallery quiet. 

Syd. Shel. {with a pale smile). I can quite 
imagine it — a — would have that effect. Still, 
if you don't mind, Collard, I must ask you to 
stick to the original lines, for the future. 

HoRS. Coll. Certainly, dear boy. It will be 
quite a relief not to have to be funny ! 

Angela {indignantly). Horsley ! How can 
you ? 

Berk. Carlt. Ah, well — there's this to be 
said: a first-night house isn't like any other. 

HORS. Coll. Fuller, for one thing! 


Berk. Carlt. You can always paper. And 
I don't despair of seeing the piece catch on 
yet, Shelcastle, if we can only see our way 
between us to cutting, say, about a third of 
each act. 

{^Another guffaw from Hawley Bray. 

Syd. Shel. You may do what you like with 
it, Carlton — but I'm hanged if /touch the beastly 
thing again ! 

Angela [aside). Berkeley ! Do stop it ! Only 
look at his face, poor little thing ! 

Berk. Carlt. [aside to her). Nonsense, dear, 
hes all right! [Aloud) Well, it must take its 
chance as it is, then. After all, it might have 
had a worse reception. If they did boo a bit, 
they didn't mean it ill-naturedly. Anythin' 
amusin' you, Hawley ? 

Hawley Bray [who has guffazved again). No 
— nothing particular. I — I was only thinking 
of that chap in the gallery. 

Berk. Carlt. Oh, ah, the beggar in the 
brown bowler. He was rather nasty at times. 
I'd have had him chucked, only the gallery all 
seemed to be with him. Still, I distinctly saw 
some of the stalls applaudin' when it was all 


Spratt-Whaley. What will the critics say 
to-morrow, my boy, that's the question ! 

Berk. Carlt. We shall know before we're 
much older. Old Bill Burleigh can't say much, 
anyhow, for he bolted in the middle of the 
second act. But Jack Hall came round after- 
wards and said there could only be one 
opinion about the piece. Didn't like to ask 
him what. 

Miss Dav. [impulsively). Haven't you rubbed 
it in quite enough ? Mr. Shelcastle, you mustn't 
mind them ! 

Berk. Carlt. My dear child, he dont. It's 
nothing to liini. Why, he didn't even care 
enough to come and see us. Preferred the 
performin' elephants ! 

Mrs. Chest. Man. And I've no doubt he 
found them far more graceful and accomplished 

Syd. Shel. I — I assure you you're mistaken. 
I wasn't indifferent. I knew I couldn't have a 
better cast and that you'd all do your very best 
for me. It was the piece that was all wrong. 
I saw that at the last dress rehearsal. And 
— well, I'm afraid I funked the first night. 
I'm awfully sorry it's come to grief — for your 


sakes as well as my own. I suppose I ought 
to have known I couldn't write a play. {He 
rises.) And now I must ask you to excuse me. 
I — I've got to go home and pack. . . . I'm going 
away early to-morrow, for — for a little holiday. 
I may be away some years. 

[Reaction, followed by general applause. 

Angela. Now, I will speak ! Dear Mr. 
Shelcastle, don't you see ? We've been taking 
you in all this time. Oh, I know it was per- 
fectly piggish of us. Only we did think you 
might have been there, you know ! 

Syd. Shel. I — don't understand. You don't 
mean that the piece wasn't such an absolute 
failure after all ? 

Berk. Caret. Considerin' we were all called 
five times after every act, and I had to make 
a speech and explain that the author was not 
in the house at the end, I shouldn't describe it 
myself as a howling frost precisely. 

Daisy. Why, they simply roared all through ! 
I was only chipping you about the coughing. 

Hawley Bray. And that Johnnie in the 
brown bowler — all spoof, you know. Jove ! I 
nearly gave the show away by smiling like a 
silly ass once or twice ! 


HORS. Coll. I'd no need to gag^ my boy. 
Got my laughs all right without that! 

Berk. Carlt. And I don't think there'll be 
much to alter to-morrow. Every scene seemed 

Spratt-Whaley. The box offices have come 
forward in style. We shall want three extra 
rows of stalls. 

Syd. Shel. {sitting down heavily). Look here — 
you — you're not pulling my leg again, are you ? 

Angela. Indeed we're not ! And you must 
try to forgive us for doing it at all. Say you do ! 

Syd. Shel. {recovering). But there's nothing 
to forgive. I knew all along that it couldn't 
really have gone wrong. 

Berk. Carlt. Of course you did, old boy. 
Pity you've got to go home and pack, though. 
How many years did you say you would be 
away ? 

Syd. Shel. {rising and going towards him). 
You didn't think I meant it, did you ? When 
I've got an idea for a new comedy which would 
— I say, I should like most awfully to tell you 
about it. 

Berk. Carlt. {pressing him back into his chair). 
Now just you try and manage a little food first, 


old fellow. You haven't had a mouthful yet. 
You've lots of time to vi^rite me a new comedy 
— we shan't be wanting it for another eight 
months at least ! 

[Sydney Shelcastle sits down and makes 

the discovery that he was hungrier than 

he imagined. 


Bef"ORE beginning to relate an experience 
which, I am fully aware, will seem to many 
so singular as to be almost, if not quite, in- 
credible, it is perhaps as well to state that 
I am a solicitor of several years' standing, 
and that I do not regard myself — nor, to the 
best of my knowledge and belief, have I ever 
been regarded — as a person in whom the 
imaginative faculty is at all unduly prominent. 

It was in Christmas week of last year. I was 
walking home from my office in New Square, 
Lincoln's Inn, as my habit is — except on 
occasions when the state of the weather 
renders such open-air exercise too imprudent 
— and on my way I went into a toy-shop, 
with a view to purchasing some seasonable 
present for a small godchild of mine. 

As was only to be expected at that time of 

year, the shop was crowded with customers, 



and I had to wait until one of the assistants 
should be at liberty. While waiting, my atten- 
tion was attracted to a toy on the counter 
before me. 

It was a glass globe, about the size of a 
moderately large orange. Inside it was a 
representation of what appeared to be the 
fagade of a castle, before which stood a figure 
holding by a thread a small pear-shaped air- 
ball striped red and blue. The globe was full 
of water containing a white sediment in solu- 
tion, which, when agitated, produced the effect 
of a miniature snowstorm. 

I cannot account for such a childish pro- 
ceeding, except by the circumstance that I 
had nothing better to occupy me at the 
moment, but I employed myself in shaking 
the globe and watching the tiny snowflakes 
circulating in the fluid, till I became so en- 
grossed as to be altogether oblivious of my 
surroundings. So that I was not particularly 
surprised when I found, as I presently did, 
that the flakes were falling and melting on 
my coat-sleeve. Before me was a heavy gate- 
way belonging to a grim, castellated edifice, 
which I thought at first must be Holloway 


Gaol, though how I could have wandered so 
far out of my way was more than I could 

But on looking round I saw no signs of 
any suburban residences, and recognised that 
I had somehow strayed into a locality with 
which I was totally unacquainted, but which 
was evidently considerably beyond the Metro- 
politan radius. It seemed to me that my 
best plan would be to knock at the gate 
and ask the lodge-keeper where I was and 
my way to the nearest railway-station ; but 
before I could carry out my intention a wicket 
in one of the gates was cautiously opened by 
a person of ancient and venerable appearance. 
He did not look like an ordinary porter, but 
was in a peculiar livery, which I took to be 
a seneschal's — not that I have ever seen a 
seneschal, but that was my impression of 
him. Whoever he was, he appeared distinctly 
pleased to see me. " You are right welcome, 
fair sir ! " he said, in a high, cracked voice. 
"Well knew I that my hapless lady would 
not lack a protector in her sad plight, though 
she had well-nigh abandoned all hope of your 
coming ! " 


I explained that I had not called by appoint- 
ment, but was simply a stranger who found 
himself in the neighbourhood by the merest 

"'Tis no matter," he replied, in his old- 
fashioned diction, " seeing that you have come, 
for truly, sir, she is in sore need of any 
one who is ready to undertake her cause ! " 

I said that I happened to be a member 
of the legal profession, and that if, as I 
gathered, his mistress was in any difficulty 
in which she desired my assistance, I was 
quite prepared to advise her to the best of 
my ability, and to act for her, should her 
case be one which, in my opinion, required it. 

"That does it, indeed!" he said; "but I 
pray you stand no longer parleying without, 
which, since I perceive you are but ill-pro- 
tected at present," he added fussily, " may be 
fraught with unnecessary danger. Come within 
without further delay ! " 

I did not think there was any real risk of 
catching cold, but I did wonder why it had 
not occurred to me to put up my umbrella, 
until I discovered that my right hand was 
alreadly engaged in holding a cord to which 


was attached a gaudily-coloured balloon that 
floated above my head. 

This was so unsuitable an appendage to 
any solicitor, especially to one about to offer 
his services in an affair which was apparently 
serious, that I was somewhat disconcerted for 
the moment. But I soon recollected having 
gone into a toy-shop some time previously, 
and concluded that I must have purchased 
this air-ball as a present for my godchild. 

I was about to explain this to the old man, 
when he pulled me suddenly through the 
wicket-gate, shutting the door so sharply that 
it snapped the string of the balloon. I saw it 
soaring up on the other side of the wall till 
a whirl of snow hid it from my sight. 

"Trouble not for its loss," said the seneschal ; 
" it has fulfilled its purpose in bringing you to 
our gates." 

If he really supposed that anybody was at 
all likely to adopt so eccentric a means of 
conveyance, he must, I thought, be in his 
dotage, and I began to have a misgiving that, 
by accepting his invitation to step in, I might 
have placed myself in a false position. 

However, I had gone too far to retract 


now, so I allowed him to conduct me to his 
mistress. He took me across a vast court- 
yard to a side entrance, and then up a winding 
stair, along deserted corridors, and through 
empty ante-chambers, until we came into a 
great hall, poorly lighted from above, and 
hung with dim tapestries. There he left me, 
saying that he would inform his mistress of 
my arrival. 

I had not long to wait before she entered 
by an opposite archway. 

I regret my inability — owing partly to the 
indifferent manner in which the apartment 
was lit — to describe her with anything like 
precision. She was quite young — not much, 
I should be inclined to say, over eighteen ; 
she was richly but fantastically dressed in 
some shimmering kind of robe, and her long 
hair was let down and flowing loose about 
her shoulders, which (although I am bound 
to say that the effect, in her case, was not 
unbecoming) always has, to my mind at least, 
a certain air of untidiness in a grown-up 
person, and almost made me doubt for a 
moment whether she was quite in her right 


But, while she was evidently in a highly 
emotional state, I could detect nothing in 
her manner or speech that indicated any 
actual mental aberration. Her personal ap- 
pearance, too, was distinctly pleasing, and 
altogether I cannot remember ever to have 
felt so interested at first sight in any female 

" Tell me," she cried, " is it really true ? 
Have you indeed come to my deliverance ? " 

" My dear young lady," I said, perceiving 
that any apology for what I had feared must 
seem a highly irregular intrusion was un- 
necessary, " I have been given to understand 
that you have some occasion for my services, 
and if that is correct I can only say that they 
are entirely at your disposal. Just try to com- 
pose yourself and tell me, as clearly and con- 
cisely as you can, the material facts of your 

" Alas ! sir," she said, wringing her hands, 
which I remember noticing were of quite 
remarkable beauty, " I am the unhappiest 
Princess in the whole world." 

I trust I am as free from snobbishness as 
most people, but I admit to feeling some 


gratification in the fact that I was honoured 
by the confidence of a lady of so exalted a 

" I am extremely sorry to hear it, ma'am," 
I said, recollecting that that was the proper 
way to address a Princess. " But I am afraid," 
I added, as I prepared to take her instruc- 
tions, "that I can be but of Httle assistance to 
you unless you can bring yourself to furnish 
me with somewhat fuller particulars." 

" Surely," she said, " you cannot be ignorant 
that I am in the power of a wicked and 
tyrannous uncle ? " 

I might have explained that I was far too 
busy a man to have leisure to keep up with 
the latest Court scandals, but I refrained. 

" I may take it, then," I said, " that you are 
an orphan, and that the relative you refer to 
is your sole guardian ? " 

She implied by a gesture that both these 
inferences were correct. " He has shut me 
up a close prisoner in this gloomy place," she 
declared, "and deprived me of all my atten- 
dants one by one, save the aged but faithful 
retainer whom you have beheld." 

I replied, of course, that this was an un- 


warrantable abuse of his authority, and in- 
quired whether she could assign any motive 
for such a proceeding on his part. 

" He is determined that I shall marry his 
son," she explained, " whom I detest with an 
unutterable loathing ! " 

" Possibly," I ventured to hint, " there is 
some one else who " 

" There is none," she said, " since I have 
never been permitted to look upon any other 
suitor, and here I am held in durance until 
I consent to this hated union — and I will die 
sooner ! But you will save me from so terrible 
a fate ! For what else are you here ? " 

" I should be incompetent indeed, ma'am," 
I assured her, " if I could not see a way out 
of what is really a very ordinary predicament. 
By attempting to force you into a marriage 
against your will your guardian has obviously 
shown himself a totally unfit person to have 
you in his custody. You have the law en- 
tirely on your side." 

" Unfit is he, truly ! " she agreed. " But I 
care not who else is on my side, so long as 
you will be my champion. Only, how will 
you achieve my rescue ? " 


" Under all the circumstances," I told her, 
" I think our best course would be to apply 
for a habeas corpus. You will then be brought 
up to the Courts of Justice, and the judge 
could make any order he thought advisable. 
In all probability he would remove your uncle 
from his position and have you made a ward 
of court." 

There is always a difficulty in getting ladies 
to understand even the simplest details of 
legal procedure, and my Princess was no 
exception to the rule. She did not seem in 
the least to realise the power which every 
court possesses of enforcing its own decrees. 

" Sir, you forget," she said, " that my uncle, 
who has great renown in these parts as a sor- 
cerer and magician, will assuredly laugh any 
such order to scorn." 

" In that case, ma'am," said I, " he will render 
himself liable for contempt of court. Besides, 
should his local reputation answer your de- 
scription, we have another hold on him. If we 
can only prove that he has been using any 
subtle craft, means, or device to impose on 
any of his Majesty's subjects, he could be pro- 
secuted under the Vagrancy Act of 1824 as a 


rogue and a vagabond. He might get as much 
as six months for it ! " 

"Ah, sir," she cried — rather peevishly, I 
thought — ''we do but waste precious time 
in idle talk such as this, of which I com- 
prehend scarce a word ! And the hour is 
nigh when I must meet my uncle face to 
face, and should I still refuse to obey his will, 
his wrath will be dire indeed!" 

" All you have to do is to refer him to nie,' 
I said. " I think I shall be able, in the course 
of a personal interview, to bring him to take 
a more reasonable view of his position. If you 
are expecting him shortly, perhaps I had better 
remain here till he arrives ? " 

"Happily for us both," she replied, "he is 
still many leagues distant from here ! Can 
you not see that, if my rescue is to be accom- 
plished at all, it must be ere his return, or 
else am I all undone ? Is it possible that, after 
coming thus far, you can tarry here doing 

I took a little time for reflection before 
answering. "After careful consideration," I 
said at last, " I have come to the conclusion 
that, as you are evidently under grave apprc- 


hension of some personal violence from your 
uncle in the event of his finding you on the 
premises, I should be fully justified in dispen- 
sing with the usual formalities and removing 
you from his custody at once. At all events, 
I will take that responsibility on myself — what- 
ever risk I may incur." 

" I crave your pardon for my seeming petu- 
lance," she said, with a pretty humility. " I 
should have known right w-ell that I might 
safely rely on the protection of so gallant 
and fearless a knight ! " 

"You will understand, I am sure, ma'am," 
I said, " that I cannot, as a bachelor, offer 
you shelter under my own roof. What I 
propose (subject, of course, to your approval) 
is that I should place you under the care of 
an old aunt of mine at Croydon until some 
other arrangement can be made. I presume 
it will not take you long to make your pre- 
parations for the journey ? " 

"What need of preparation?" she cried. "Let 
us delay no longer, but fly this instant!" 

" I should recommend you to take at least a 
dressing-bag," 1 said ; " you will have time to 
pack all you may require while your retainer 


is fetching us a fly. Then I know of nothing 
to hinder us from leaving at once." 

"Nothing?" she exclaimed. "Do you dread 
a dragon so little, then, that you can speak 
thus lightly ? " 

I could not help smiling ; it was so sur- 
prising to find a Princess of her age who 
still retained a belief in fairy-tales. " I think, 
ma'am," I said, "that at this time of day a 
dragon is not an obstacle which we need take 
into serious consideration. You have evidently 
not been informed that such a monster has 
long since ceased to exist. In other words, 
it is undoubtedly extinct." 

"And you have slain it!" she cried, and 
her eyes blazed with admiration. " I might 
have guessed as much ! It is slain — and now 
even my uncle has no longer power to detain 
me here ! For many a long month I have 
not dared to look from out my casements, 
but now I may behold the light of day 
once more without shrinking ! " She drew 
back some hangings as she spoke, disclosing 
a large oriel window, and the next moment 
she cowered away with a cry of abject 


"Why have you deceived me?" she de- 
manded, with indignant reproach. " It is not 
extinct. It is still there. Look for yourself!" 

I did look ; the window commanded the 
rear of the castle, which I had not hitherto 
seen, and now I saw something else so utterly 
unexpected that I could hardly trust the evi- 
dence of my own eyesight. 

Towering above the battlemented outer wall 
I saw a huge horny head, poised upon a long 
and flexible neck, and oscillating slowly from 
side to side with a sinister vigilance. Although 
the rest of the brute was hidden by the wall, 
I saw quite enough to convince me that it 
could not well be anything else than a dragon 
— and a formidable one at that. I thought I 
understood now why the seneschal had been 
so anxious to get me inside, though I wished 
he had been rather more explicit. 

I stood there staring at it — but I made no 
remark. To tell the truth, I did not feel equal 
to one just then, 

The Princess spoke first. "You seem as- 
tonished, sir," she said " yet you can hardly 
have been in ignorance that my uncle has 
set this ferocious monster to guard these 


walls, and devour me should I strive to make 
my escape." 

"I can only say, ma'am," I replied, "that 
this is the first intimation I have had of the 

" Still, you are vi'ise and strong," she said. 
" You will surely devise some means whereby 
to rid me of this baleful thing ! " 

" If you will permit me to draw the curtain 
again," I said, " I will endeavour to think of 
something. . . . Am I right in assuming that 
the brute is the property of your uncle ? " 

She replied that that was so. 

"Then I think I see a way," I said. 
"Your uncle could be summoned for allow- 
ing such a dangerous animal to be at large, 
since it is clearly not under proper control. 
And if an application were made to a magis- 
trate, under the Act of 187 1, he might be 
ordered to destroy it at once." 

"You little know my uncle," she said, with 
a touch of scorn, " if you deem that he would 
destroy his sole remaining dragon at the bidding 
of any person whatever ! " 

" He will incur a penalty of twenty shillings 
a day till he does," I replied. " In any case, 


I can promise you that, if I can only manage 
to get out of this place, you shall not be 
exposed to this annoyance very much longer." 

"You will ?" she cried. "Are you quite sure 
that you will succeed ? " 

" Practically I am," I said. " I shall apply 
— always supposing I can get home safely — 
the first thing to-morrow morning, and, if I 
can only convince the Bench that the terms 
of the Act are wide enough to include not only 
dogs, but any other unmanageable quadrupeds, 
why, the thing is as good as done ! " 

" To-morrow ! to-morrow ! " she repeated 
impatiently. " Must I tell you once more 
that this is no time to delay? Indeed, sir, 
if I am to be rescued at all, your hand alone 
can deliver me from this loathly worm ! " 

I confess I considered she was taking an 
altogether extravagant view of the relations 
between solicitor and client. 

" If," I said, " it could be described with 
any accuracy as a worm, I should not feel 
the slightest hesitation about attacking it." 

"Then you will?" she said, entirely missing 
my point, as usual. "Tell me you will — for 
mj/ sake ! " 


She looked so engaging whilst making this 
appeal that I really had not the heart to pain 
her by a direct refusal. 

"There is nothing," I said, "that is, nothing 
in reason, that I would not do cheerfully for 
your sake. But if you will only reflect, you 
will see at once that, in a tall hat and over- 
coat, and with absolutely no weapon but an 
umbrella, I should not stand the ghost of a 
chance against a dragon. I should be too 
hopelessly overmatched." 

" You say truth," she replied, much to my 
satisfaction. " I could not desire any champion 
of mine to engage in so unequal a contest. 
So have no uneasiness on that score." 

On this she clapped her hands as a summons 
to the seneschal, who appeared so promptly 
that I fancy he could not have been very far 
from the keyhole. "This gallant gentleman," 
she explained to him, " has undertaken to go 
forth and encounter the dragon without our 
walls, provided that he is fitly furnished for 
so deadly a fray." 

I tried to protest that she had placed a con- 
struction on my remarks which they were not 
intended to bear — but the old man was so 


voluble in thanks and blessings that I could 
not get in a single word. 

"You will conduct him to the armoury," 
the Princess continued, " and see him arrayed 
in harness meet for so knightly an endeavour. 
Sir," she added to me, " words fail me at such 
an hour as this. I cannot even thank you as 
I would. But I know you will do your utmost 
on my behalf. Should you fall " 

She broke off here, being evidently unable 
to complete her sentence, but that was un- 
necessary. I knew what would happen if I 

" But fall you will not," she resumed. 
" Something tells me that you will return to 
me victorious ; and then — and then — should 
you demand any guerdon of me — yea " (and 
here she blushed divinely) " even to this hand 
of mine, it shall not be denied you." 

Never in the whole course of my pro- 
fessional career had I been placed in a posi- 
tion of greater difficulty. My common sense 
told me that it was perfectly preposterous on 
her part to expect such services as these from 
one who was merely acting as her legal adviser. 
Even if I performed them successfully — which 


was, to say the least of it, doubtful — my prac- 
tice would probably be injuriously affected 
should my connection with such an affair 
become known. As for the special fee she 
had so generously suggested, that, of course, 
was out of the question. At my time of 
life marriage with a flighty young woman of 
eighteen — and a Princess into the bargain — 
would be rather too hazardous an experiment. 

And yet, whether it is that, middle-aged 
bachelor as I am, I have still a strain of un- 
suspected romance and chivalry in my nature, 
or for some other cause that I cannot explain, 
somehow I found myself kissing the little hand 
she extended to me, and going forth without 
another word to make as good a fight of it as 
I could for her against such an infernal beast 
as a dragon. I cannot say that I felt cheerful 
over it, but, anyhow, I went. 

I followed the seneschal, who led me down 
by a different staircase from that I had come 
up, and through an enormous vaulted kitchen, 
untenanted by all but black-beetles, which were 
swarming. Merely for the sake of conversation, 
I made some remark on their numbers and 
pertinacity, and inquired why no steps had 


apparently been taken to abate so obvious a 
nuisance. "Alas! noble sir," he replied, as he 
sadly shook his old white head, " 'twas the 
scullions' office to clear the place of these 
pests, and the last minion has long since 
vanished from our halls ! " 

I felt inclined to ask him where they had 
vanished to — but I did not. I thought the 
answer might prove discouraging. Even as it 
was, I would have given something for a whisky- 
and-soda just then — but he did not offer it, and 
I did not like to suggest it for fear of being 
misunderstood. And presently we entered the 

Only a limited number of suits were hanging 
on the walls, and all of them were in a deplor- 
ably rusty and decayed condition, but the 
seneschal took them down one by one, and 
made fumbling attempts to buckle and hook 
me into them. Most unfortunately, not a single 
suit proved what I should call workmanlike, 
for I defy any man to fight a dragon in armour 
which is too tight even to move about in with 
any approach to comfort. 

" I'm afraid it's no use," I told the seneschal, 
as 1 reluctantly resumed my ordinary garments. 


" You can see for yourself that there's nothing 
here that comes near my size ! " 

" But you cannot engage in combat with the 
dragon in your present habihments ! " he re- 
monstrated. " That were stark madness ! " 

I was glad that the old man had sufficient 
sense to see that. " I am quite of your opinion," 
I replied ; " and believe me, my good old friend, 
nothing is farther from my thoughts. My idea 
is that if — I do not ask you to expose yourself 
to any unnecessary risk — but if you could con- 
trive to divert the dragon's attention by a 
demonstration of some sort on one side of the 
castle, I might manage to slip quietly out of 
some door on the other." 

"Are you but a caitiff, then, after all," he 
exclaimed, *' that you can abandon so lovely 
a lady to certain doom ? " 

" There is no occasion for addressing me in 
offensive terms," I replied. " I have no inten- 
tion whatever of abandoning your mistress. 
You will be good enough to inform her that 
I shall return to-morrow without fail with a 
weapon that will settle this dragon's business 
more effectually than any of your obsolete lances 
and battle-axes ! " 


For I had already decided on this as the 
only course that was now open to me. I had 
a friend who spent most of the year abroad in 
the pursuit of big game, but who chanced by 
good luck to be in town just then. He would, 
I knew, willingly lend me an express rifle and 
some expansive bullets, and, as an ex-volunteer 
and marksman, I felt that the odds would then 
be slightly in my favour, even if I could not, 
as I hoped I could, persuade my friend to join 
me in the expedition. 

But the seneschal took a less sanguine view 
of my prospects. 

'' You forget, sir," he remarked lugubriously, 
" that, in order to return hither, you must first 
quit the shelter of these walls — which, all un- 
armed as you are, would be but to court instant 
death ! " 

"I don't quite see that," I argued. "After 
all, as the dragon made no effort to prevent 
me from coming in, it is at least possible that 
it may not object to my going out." 

"For aught I can say," he replied, "it may 
have no orders to hinder any from entrance. As 
to that I know naught. But of this I am very sure 
— it suffers no one to depart hence undevoured." 


" But could I not contrive to get out of its 
reach before it was aware that I had even 
started ? " I suggested. 

" I fear me, sir," he said despondently, " that 
the creature would not fail to follow up your 
tracks ere the snow could cover them." 

"That had not occurred to me," I said. 
" But now you mention it, it does not seem 
altogether unlikely. In your opinion, then, I 
should do better in remaining where I am ? " 

" Only until the enchanter return," was his 
reply, " as, if I mistake not, he may do at 
any moment, after which your stay here will 
assuredly be but brief." 

" You can't mean," I said, " that he would 
have the inhumanity to turn me out to be de- 
voured by his beastly dragon ? For that is what 
it would come to." 

" Unless, perchance, by dint of strength or 
cunning you were to overcome the monster," 
he said. " And methought you had come 
hither with that very intent." 

" My good man," I replied, " I've no idea 
why or how I came here, but it was certainly 
with no desire or expectation of meeting a 
dragon. However, I begin to see very clearly 


that if I can't find some way of putting an end 
to the brute — and promptly, too — he will make 
an end of me. The question is, how the deuce 
am I to set about it ? " 

And then, all at once, I had an inspiration. 
I recollected the black-beetles, and something 
the seneschal had said about its being the 
scullions' duty to keep them down. I asked 
him what methods they had employed for 
this purpose, but, such humble details being 
naturally outside his province, he was unable 
to inform me. So I returned to the kitchen, 
where I began a careful search, not without 
some hope of success. 

For awhile I searched in vain, but at last, 
just when I had begun to despair, I found on 
a dusty shelf in the buttery the identical thing 
I had been looking for. It was an earthen 
vessel containing a paste, which, in spite of 
the fungoid growth that had collected on its 
surface, I instantly recognised as a composition 
warranted to prove fatal to every description 
of vermin. 

I called to the seneschal and asked if he 
could oblige me with a loaf of white bread, 
which he brought in evident bewilderment. I 


cut a slice from the middle and was proceeding 
to spread the paste thickly upon it when he 
grasped my arm. " Hold ! " he cried. " Would 
you rashly seek your death ere it is due ? " 

"You need not be alarmed," I told him; 
"this is not for myself. And now will you 
kindly show me a way out to some part of the 
roof where I can have access to the dragon ? " 

Trembling from head to foot he indicated a 
turret-stair, up which, however, he did not offer 
to accompany me ; it brought me out on the 
leads of what appeared to be a kind of bastion. 
I crept cautiously to the parapet and peeped 
over it, and then for the first time I had a full 
view of the brute, which was crouching im- 
mediately below me. I know how prone the 
most accurate are to exaggeration in matters 
of this kind, but, after making every allowance 
for my excited condition at the time, I do not 
think I am far out in estimating that the 
dimensions of the beast could not have been 
much, if at all, less than those of the " Diplo- 
docus Carnegii," a model of which is exhibited 
at the Natural History Museum, while its ap- 
pearance was infinitely more terrific. 

I do not mind admitting frankly that the 


sight so unmanned me for the moment that I 
was seized with an almost irresistible impulse 
to retire by the way I had come before the 
creature had observed me. And yet it was not 
without a certain beauty of its own ; I should 
say, indeed, that it was rather an unusually 
handsome specimen of its class, and I was 
especially struck by the magnificent colouring 
of its scales, which surpassed that of even the 
largest pythons. Still, to an unaccustomed eye 
there must always be something about a dragon 
that inspires more horror than admiration, and 
I was in no mood just then to enjoy the spec- 
tacle. It was hunched up together, with its 
head laid back, like a fowl's, between its wings, 
and seemed to be enjoying a short nap, I 
suppose I must unconsciously have given some 
sign of my presence, for suddenly I saw the 
horny films roll back like shutters from its 
lidless eyes, which it fixed on me with a cold 
glare of curiosity. 

And then it shambled on to its feet, and slowly 
elongated its neck till it brought its horrible 
head on a level with the battlements. I need 
not say that on this I promptly retreated to a 
spot where I judged I should be out of im- 


mediate danger. But I had sufficient presence 
of mind to remember the purpose for which I 
was there, and, fixing the prepared sHce on the 
ferrule of my umbrella, I extended it as far as 
my arm would reach in the creature's direction. 

I fancy it had not been fed very lately. The 
head made a lightning dart across the parapet, 
and a voracious snap — and the next moment 
both bread and umbrella had disappeared down 
its great red gullet. 

The head was then withdrawn. I could hear 
a hideous champing sound, as of the ribs of 
the umbrella being slowly crunched. After that 
came silence. 

Again I crawled to the parapet and looked 
down. The huge brute was licking its plated 
jaws with apparent gusto, as though — which 
was likely enough — an umbrella came as an 
unaccustomed snack to its jaded palate. It 
was peacefully engaged now in digesting this 
hors d'ccuvre. 

But my heart only sank the lower at the 
sight. For if an alpaca umbrella with an 
ebony handle could be so easily assimilated, 
what possible chance was there that beetle- 
paste would produce any deleterious effect ? 


I had been a fool to place the faintest hope 
on so desperate a hazard. Presently he would 
be coming for more — and I had nothing for 
him ! 

But by-and-by, as I gazed in a sort of 
fascinated repulsion, I fancied I detected some 
slight symptoms of uneasiness in the reptile's 

It was almost nothing at first — a restless 
twitch at times, and a squint in its stony eyes 
that I had not previously noticed — but it gave 
me a gleam of hope. Presently I saw the 
great crest along its spine slowly begin to 
erect itself, and the filaments that fringed its 
jaws bristling, as it proceeded to deal a suc- 
cession of vicious pecks at its distended olive- 
green paunch, which it evidently regarded as 
responsible for the disturbance. 

Little as I knew about dragons, a child 
could have seen that this one was feeling 
somewhat seriously indisposed. Only — was it 
due to the umbrella or the vermin-killer ? As 
to that I could only attempt to speculate, and 
my fate — and the Princess's, too — hung upon 
which was the correct diagnosis ! 

However, I was not kept long in suspense. 


Suddenly the beast uttered a kind of bellowing 
roar — the most appalling sound I think I ever 
heard — and after that I scarcely know what 
happened exactly. 

I fancy it had some kind of fit. It writhed 
and rolled over and over, thrashing the air with 
its big leathery wings, and tangling itself up to 
a degree that, unless I had seen it, I should 
have thought impossible, even for a dragon. 

After this had gone on for some time, it 
untied itself and seemed calmer again, till all 
at once it curved into an immense arch, and 
remained perfectly rigid with wings outspread 
for nearly half a minute. Then it suddenly 
collapsed on its side, panting, snorting, and 
quivering like some monstrous automobile, 
after which it stretched itself out to its full 
length once or twice, and then lay stiff and 
still. Its gorgeous hues gradually faded into a 
dull, leaden-grey tint. . . . All was over — the 
vermin-destroyer had done its work after all. 

I cannot say that I was much elated. 1 am 
not sure that I did not even feel a pang of 
self-reproach. I had slain the dragon, it was 
true, but by a method which I could not 
think would have commended itself to St. 


George as entirely sportsmanlike, even though 
the circumstances left me no other alternative. 

However, I had saved the Princess, which, 
after all, was the main point, and there was 
no actual necessity for her to know more 
than the bare fact that the dragon was dead, 

I was just about to go down and inform 
her that she was now free to leave the castle, 
when I heard a whirring noise in the air, 
and, glancing back, I saw, flying towards me 
through the still falling snow, an elderly gentle- 
man of forbidding aspect, who was evidently 
in a highly exasperated state. It was the 
Princess's uncle. 

I don't know how it was, but till that 
moment I had never realised the extremely 
unprofessional proceeding into which I had 
been betrayed by my own impulsiveness. But 
I saw now, though too late, that, in taking 
the law into my own hands and administering 
a poisonous drug to an animal which, however 
furious it might be, was still the property of 
another, I had been guilty of conduct un- 
worthy of any respectable solicitor. It was 
undoubtedly an actionable tort, if not a tres- 
pass — while he might even treat it as a criminal 


So, as the magician landed on the roof, his 
face distorted with fury, I felt that nothing 
would meet the case but the most ample 
apology. But, feeling that it was better to 
allow the first remark to come from him, I 
merely raised my hat and waited to hear what 
he had to say. . . . 

*' Are you being attended to, sir?" was the 
remark that actually came — and both words 
and tone were so different from what I had 
expected that I could not repress a start. 

And then, to my utter astonishment, I dis- 
covered that battlements and magician had all 
disappeared. I was back again in the toy- 
shop, staring into the glass globe, in which 
the snow was still languidly circling. 

" Like to take one of these shilling snow- 
storms, sir ? " continued the assistant, who 
seemed to be addressing me ; " we're selling a 
great quantity of them just now. Very suit- 
able and acceptable present for a child, sir, 
and only a shilling in that size, though we 
have them larger in stock." 

I bought the globe I had first taken up — but 
I have not given it to my godchild. I pre- 
ferred to keep it myself. 

Of course, my adventure may have been 


merely a kind of day-dream ; though, if so, 
it is rather odd that it should have taken that 
form, when, even at night, my dreams — on the 
rare occasions when I do dream — never turn 
upon such subjects as castles, princesses, or 

A scientific friend, to whom I related the 
experience, pronounces it to be an ordinary 
case of auto-hypnotism, induced by staring 
into a crystal globe for a prolonged period. 

But I don't know. I cannot help thinking 
that there is something more in it than that. 

I still gaze into the globe at times, when I 
am alone of an evening ; but while I have 
occasionally found myself back in the snow- 
storm again, I have never, so far, succeeded 
in getting into the castle. 

Perhaps it is as well ; for, although I should 
not at all object to see something more of the 
Princess, she has most probably, thanks to my 
instrumentality, long since left the premises — 
and I cannot say that I have any particular 
desire to meet the magician. 

Printed by Ballantyne, Hanson <5h Co. 
Edinburgh <5r* London 


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467. Twelve Stories and a Dream. By H. G. Wells. 
466. Round Anvil Rock. By Nancy H. Banks. 
465. The Crossing. By Winston Churchill. 
464. The Heart of Rome. By F. Marion Crawford. 
463. Barlasch of the Guard. By H. Seton Merriman. 
462. McTodd. By Cutcliffe Hyne. 
461. The " Paradise " Coal-Boat. By Cutcliffe Hyne, 
460. Helianthus. By Ouida. 

459. John Maxwell's Marriage. By Stephen Gwynn. 
458. The Children who Ran Away. By E\'elyn Sharp. 
457. A Passage Perilous. By Rosa Nouchette Carey. 
455. Lady Rose's Daughter. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 
454. The Flower 0' the Com. By S. R. Crockett. 
453. The Ghost Camp ; or, The Avengers. By Rolf Boldrewood. 
452. The Vultures. By H. Seton Merriman. 
451. Jan Van Elselo. By Gilbert and Marion Coleridge, 
450. By Dulvercombe Water. By Harold Vallings, 
449. The Highway of Fate. By Rosa N. Carey. 
448. Lavinia. ISy Rhoda Broughton. 
447. The Virginian. By Owen Wister. 

446. Cecilia: A Story of Modem Rome. By F. Marion Crawford. 
445 Dorothy Vernon of Haddon Hall. By Charles Major. 
444. The Conqueror. By Gertrude Atherton. 
443. Gentleman Garnet. By H. B. Vogel. 
442. Michael Ferrier. By E. Frances Poynter. 
441. The Dark o' the Moon, By S. R. Crockett. 
440. The Velvet Glove. By II. Seton Merriman. 
439, The Westcotes. By A. T. Quiller Couch. 
438. The Tory Lover. By Sarah Okne Jkwett. 

Maoiiillan's Colonial Library 3 

437. The Youngest Girl in the School. By Evelyn Sharp. 

436. The Making of a Marchioness. By Mrs. Hodgson Burnett. 

435. Deep Sea Plunderings. By K. T. Buli.en. 

434. The Sinner and the Problem. By Eric Parker. 

433. The Old Knowledge. By Stephen Gwynn. 

432. St. Nazarius. By Mrs. Farquharson. 

431. Princess Puck. By Una L. Silberrad. 

430. Herb of Grace. By Rosa N. Carey. 

429. A Maid of Venice. By F. Marion Crawford. 

428. The Benefactress. By the Author of " Elizabeth and Her German 

427. The Dolly Dialogues. By Anthony Hope. 
426. Count Hannibal. By Stanley J. Weyman. 
425. The Firebrand. By S. R. Crockett. 
424. The Helmet of Navarre. By Bertha Runkle. 
423. In Bad Company. By Rolf Boldrewood, 
422. Cinderella. By S. R. Crockett. 
421. The Silver Skull. By S. R. Crockett. 
420. In the Kanks of the C.I.V. By E. Childers. 
419. Number One and Number Two. By F. M. Beard. 
418. Old New Zealand. Preface by the Earl of Pemuroke. 
416. Men of the Merchant Service. By F. T. Bullen. 
415. Eleanor. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 
414. Kim. By Rudyard Kiplinc. 

413. Marshfield the Observer, etc. By Egerton Castle. 
412. Four Months Besieged (Ladysmith). By H. H. S. Pearse. 
411. The Crisis. By Winston Churchill. 
410. The Secret Orchard. By Egerton Castle. 
409. Prejudged. By Florence Montgomery. 

405. Foes in Law. By Rhoda Broughton. 

407. In the Palace of the King. By F. M. Cra\vfori>. 

406. Richard Yea and Nay. By Maurice Hewlett. 
405. Rue with a Difference. By Rosa N. Carey. 
404. Modern Broods. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 

403. The Increasing Purpose. By James Lane Allen. 

402. The Bath Comedy. By A. and E. Castle. 

401. An Isle of Unrest. By H. S. Mkrriman. 

400. Babes in the Bush. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

399. The Cambric Mask. By W. R. Chambers. 

398. Little Anna Mark. By S. R. Crockett. 

397. Donna Teresa. By F. M. Peard. 

395> 396- From Sea to Sea. By Rudyard Kipling. 2 vols. 

394. Valda Hanem. By Miss t). H. Pryce. 

393. Breaking the Shackles. By Frank Barrett, 

392. The Mettle of the Pasture. By J. Lane Allen. 

391. Via Crucis. By F. Marion Crawford. 

390. A Bitter Vintage. By K. D. King. 

389. She Walks in Beauty. By Mrs. Hinkson (Katharine Tynan). 

388. Richard Carvel. By Winston Churchill. 

387. Little Novels of Italy. By M. Hewlett. 

386. Stalky and Co. By Rudyard Kipling. 

385. Miranda of the Balcony. By A. E. W. Mason. 

384. War to the Knife. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

3S3. The Log of a Sea- Waif. By F. T. Bullen. 

382. The Enchanter. By Miss U. L. Silberrad. 

381. The Cardinal's Page. By James Baker. 

380. A Drama in Sunshine. By H. A. Vachell. 

4 Macmillan's Colonial Library 

379. Rupert, by the Grace of God— By Dora McChesney. 

378. Black Douglas. By S. R. Crockett. 

377. The Etchingham Letters. By Mrs. Fuller Maitland and Sii 

F. Pollock, Bart. 
376. A Modern Mercenary. By K. and H. Prichard. 
375. Cruise of the "Cachalot." By F. T. Bullen. 
374. On many Seas. By PI. E. Hamblen. 
373. The Pride of Life. By Sir W. Magnay, Bart. 
372. Off the High Road. By Eleanor C. Prigs. 
371. Young April. By Egerton Castle. 
370. The Pride of Jennico. By Egerton Castle. 
369. The Game and the Candle. By Rhoda Broughton 
368. One of the Grenvilles. By S. R. Lysaght. 
367. Selah Harrison. By S. Macnaughtan. 
366. The Adventures of Francois. By S. Weir Mitchell. 
365. For the Term of his Natural Life. By Marcus Clarke. 
364. The Gospel Writ in Steel. By Arthur Paterson. 
363. Bismillah. By A. J. Dawson. 
362. A Treasury Officer's Wooing. By C. Lowis. 
360. Her Memory. By Maakten Maartens. 
359. That Little Cutty. By Mrs. Oliphant. 
357. The Red Axe. By S. R. Crockett. 
356. The Castle Inn. By Stanley J. Weyman. 
355. Roden's Corner. By H. Seton Merriman. 
354. The Day's Work. By Rudyard Kipling. 
352. Helbeck of Bannisdale. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 
350. The Forest Lovers. By Maurice Hewlett. 
349. The Concert-Director. By Miss Nellie K. Blissett. 
34S. The Philosopher's Romance. By John Berwick. 
345. Plain Living. By Rolf Boldrewood. 
344. Rupei-t of Hentzau. By Anthony Hope. 
342. The Choir Invisible. By J. Lane Allen. 
341. A Chapter of Accidents. By Mrs. Hugh Eraser. 
340. For Prince and People. By E. K. Sanders. 
339. Corleone. By F. Marion Crawford. 
337. Unkist Unkind. By Violet Hunt. 
336. The Well Beloved. By Thomas Hardy. 
334. Lawrence Clavering. By A. E. W. Mason. 
332. A Rose of Yesterday. By F. AIarion Crawford. 
331. Sport and Travel in India and Central America. By A. G. 

327. The Fall of a Star. By Sir W. Magnay. 
326. The Secret of Saint Florel. By John Berwick. 
325. My Run Home. By Rolf Boldrewood. 
320. The Philanderers. By A. E. W. Mason. 
319. Queen of the Moor. By F. Adye. 
317, 318. Farthest North. By F. Nansen. 2 vols. 
316. The Pilgrimage of the Ben Beriah. By C. M. Yonge. 
315. Stories of Naples and the Camorra. By C. Grant. 
312. The Green Book ; or, Freedom under the Snow. By M. Jokai. 
310. The Money Spinner. I'y H. S. Merriman and S. G. 

309. Palladia. By Mrs. Hugh Fraser. 
307. Wheels of Chance. By II. G. Wells. 
30&. A Woman of Thirty. By H. de Balzac. 
305. About Catherine de Medicis. By ?I. de Balzac. 
304. The Peasantry. By H. dk I^ai.zac. 

MaanillarCs Colonial Library 5 

303. Ravenstone. By C. R. Colp:ridge and Helen Siupton. 

301. Camps, Quarters, and Casual Places. By Archibald Forbes. 

300. The Story of Maurice Lestrange. By Mrs. Omond. 

299. The Sealskin Cloak. By Rolf Boldkewood. 

298. For Freedom's Sake. By Arthur Paterson. 

297. Taquisara. By F. Marion Crawford. 

296. Sir George Tressady. By Mrs. Humihry Ward. 

295. Master Beggars. By L. Cope Cornford. 

294. Jude the Obscure. By Thomas Hardy. 

293. Beatrix. By H. dk Balzac. 

290. Mrs. Martin's Company. By Jane Barlow. 

289. Tom Grogan. By F. Hopkinson Smith. 

288. The Inn by the Shore. By Florence Warden. 

287. Old Melbourne Memories. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

286. Denis. By Mrs. E. M. Fif:ld. 

285. Caesar Eirotteau. By H. de Balzac. 

284. Pierette. By H. de Balzac. 

283. A Bachelor's Establishment. By H. de Balzac. 

282. His Honour and a Lady. By S. J. Duncan. 

281. The Unknown Masterpiece. By H. de Balzac. 

280. The Grand Bretache. By H. de Balzac. 

279. Robert Helmont. By A. Daudet. 

276. Recollections of a Literary Man. By A. Uaude r. 

275. Kings in Exile. By A. Daudet. 

274. Tartarin of the Alps. By A. Daudet. 

273. Tartarin of Tarascon. By A. Daudet. 

272. Disturbing Elements. By M. C. Birchenough. 

271. The Sowers. By H. 8. Merriman. 

270. Cleg Kelly. By S. R. Crockett. 

269. The Judge of the Four Comers. By G. B. Burgin. 

268. The Release. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 

267. The Atheist's Mass, etc. By H. de Balzac. 

266. Old Goriot. By H. de Balzac. 

264. The Courtship of Morrice Buckler. By A. E. W. Mason. 

263. Where Highways Cross. By J. S. Fletcher. 

262. A Ringby Lass. By Mary Beaumont. 

261. A Modem Han. By Ella MacMahon. 

260. Maureen's Fairing. By Jane Barlow. 

258. Tryphena in Love. By W. Raymond. 

257. The Old Pastures. By Mrs. Leith-Adams. 

256. Lindsay's Girl. By Mrs. Herbert Martin. 

255. Ursule Mirouet. By H. de Balzac. 

254. The Quest of the Absolute. By H. de Balzac. 

253. Wee Willie Winkie, etc. By Rudyard Kipling. 

252. Soldiers Three, etc. By Rudyard Kipling. 

251. Many Inventions, etc. By Rudyard Kipling. 

250. Life's Handicap, etc. By Rudyard Kipling. 

249. The Light that Failed. r>y Rudyard Kipling. 

248. Plain Tales from the Hills. By Rudyard Kipling. 

247. The Country Doctor. By H. de Balzac, 

246. The Chouans. By H. de Balzac. 

245. Eugenie Grandet. By H. de Balzac. 

244. At the sign of the Cat and Racket. By II. de Balzac. 

243. The Wild Ass's Skin. By 11. dk Balzac. 

241. The btory of a Marriage. By Mrs. A. Baldwin. 

241. The Wonderful Visit. By H. G. Wells. 

240. A Youth of Parnassus, iiy L. Pearsai i. Smith. 

6 Macmillans Colonial Library 

239. A Sweet Disorder. By Norma Lorimer. 

238, The Education of Antonio. By F. E. Phillips. 

237. For Love of Prue. By Leslie Keith. 

236. The Wooing of Doris. By Mrs. J. K. Spender. 

235. Captain Flick. By Fergus Hume. 

234. Not Exactly. By E. M. Stooke. 

233. A Set of Rogues. By Frank Barrett. 

232. Minor Dialogues. By W. Pett Ri uge. 

231. My Honey. By the Author of " Tipcat." 

230. The Shoulder of Shasta. By Bram Stoker. 

229. Casa Braccio. By F. Marion Crawford. 

228. The Salt of the Earth. By P. Lafargue. 

227. The Horseman's Word. By Neil Roy. 

226. Comrades in Arms. By Arthur Amyand. 

225. The Wild Rose. By Francis Francls. 

224. The Crooked Stick. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

223. The Herons. By Helen Shipton. 

222. Adam Johnstone's Son. By F. Marion Crawford. 

220. A Son of the Plains. By Arthur PatersOxN. 

219. Winifred Mount. By Riciiaku Pryce. 

218. The Lovely Malincourt. By Helen Mathers. 

217. Mistress Dorothy Marvin. By J. C. Snaith. 

216. The Renegade. By James Chalmers. 

215. Prisoners of Silence. By Mary A. Dickens. 

214. By Order of the Brotherhood. By Le Voleur. 

213. Neighbours of Om"s. By H. W. Nevinson. 

212. The Martyred Fool. By D. Christie Murray. 

211. Under God's Sky. By Deas Cromarty. 

210. Alice Lauder. By Mrs. J. Glenny Wilson. 

209. Thirteen Doctors. By Mrs. J. K. Spender. 

208. The Burden of a Woman. By Richard Pryce. 

207. Peter Steele, the Cricketer. By II. G. Hutchinson. 

206. Two in the Bush, etc. By Frankfort Moore. 

205. The Great Dominion. By G. R. Parkin. 

204. A Long Vacation. By C. M. Yonge. 

203. The Ralstons. By F. Marion Crawford. 

202. Seething Days. By Caroline C. Holroyd. 

201. In the Lion's Mouth. By Eleanor C. Price. 

200. Chapters from some Memoirs. By Mrs. Ritchie. 

199. The Vagabonds. By Margaret L. Woods. 

198. Peter Ibbetson. By George du Maurier. 

197. Sibylla. By Sir Henry Cunningham, K.C I.E. 

196. Two on a Tower. By Thomas Hardy. 

194. A Laodicean. By Thomas Hardy. 

193. The Hand of Ethelberta. By Thomas Hardy. 

192. Life's Little Ironies. By Thomas Hardy. 

191. A Group of Noble Dames. By Thomas Hardy. 

190. The Trumpet Major. By Thomas Hardy. 

189. The Return of the Native. By Thomas Hardy. 

188. Far from the Madding Crowd. By Thomas Hardy. 

187. A Pair of Blue Eyes. By Thomas Hardy. 

186. Desperate Remedies. By Thomas Hardy. 

185. Tess of the D'Urbervilles. By Thomas Hardy. 

184. The Prisoner of Zenda. By Anthony Hope. 

183. The Story of Dan. By M. E.Francis. 

181. Katharine Lauderdale. By F. Marion Crawford. 

180. The Raiders. P>y S. R. Crockei r. 

Macinillaiis Colonial Library y 

[79. Cawnpore. By Rt. Hon. Sir G. O. Tkevelyan, Bart. 

[78. Elements of Metaphysics. By Dr. Paul IJeussen. 

[77. A Valiant Ignorance. By Mary Angela Dickens. 

[75. A Modern Buccaneer. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

[74. Marcella. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

173. Round London. By Montagu Williams, Q.C. 

172. Later Leaves. By Montagu Williams, Q.C. 

171. Leaves of a Life. By Montagu Williams, Q.C. With a Portrait, 

170. Yeast: A Problem. By Charles Kingsley. 

169. Two Years Ago. By Charles Kingsley. 

165. Hereward the Wake. By Charles Kingsley. 
167. Hypatia. By Charles Kingsley. 

166. Alton Locke, Tailor and Poet. By Charles Kingsley. 
165. Westward Ho! By Charles Kingsley. With a Portrait. 
164. Adventures in Mashonaland. By Blennerhasseit and 


163. Richard Escott. By E. H. Cooper. 
[62. Lady William. By Mrs. Oliphant. 
161. Marion Darche. By F. Marion Crawford. 
[58. Pietro Ghisleri. By F. Marion Crawford. 
[57. The Last Touches. By Mrs. Clifford. 
[56. Strolling Players. By C. M. Yonge and C. R. Coleridge. 
[55. Grisly Grisell. By C. M. Yonge. 

154. Records of Tennyson, Euskin, and Browning. By Mrs. Ritchie. 
[53. The Marplot. By S. R. Lysaght. 
[52. John I'revennick. By W. C. Riioades. 
151. A Mere CjT)h6r. By Mary Angela Dickens. 
[50. A Bom Player. By Mary West. 
[49. The Real Thing, etc. By Henry James. 

~. The Lesson of the Master, etc. By Henry James. 
147. Don Orsino. By F. Marion Crawford. 
146. The Heir Presumptive and the Heir Apparent. By Mrs. 


145. Under Pressure. By the Marchesa Theodoli. 
144. The Children of the King. By F. Marion Crawford. 
143. Imperial Federation. By G. R. Parkin. 
142. Imperial Defence. By Sir Chas. Dilke and S. Wilkinson. 
141. Helen Treveryan. By Sir M. Durand, K.C.I.E. 
140. The Story of Dick. By Major Gambier Parry. 
139. The Three Fates. By F. Marion Crawford. 
[38. The Marriage of Elinor. By Mrs. Oliphant. 
[37. A Strange Elopement. By W. Clark Russell. 
136. A First Family of Tasajara. By Bret Harte. 
[35. The History of David Grieve. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 
134. Mariam, or Twenty-one Days. By H. Victor. 
133. The Railway Man and his Children. By Mrs. Oliphant. 
(32. Blanche, Lady Falaise. ByJ. H. Shorthouse. 
131. Cecilia de Noel. By Lanoe Falconer. 
29. The Witch of Prague. By F. Marion Crawford. Illustrated. 
[28. That Stick. By C. M. Yonge. 
127. Nevermore. By Rolf Boldrewood. 
[26. Tim. 

[24. A Sydney- Side Saxon. By Rolf Boldrewood. 
(23. The Philadelphian. By L. J. Jennings, M.P. 

, Khaled. By F. Marion Crawford. 
:i9. Two Penniless Princesses. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 
[18. The Expansion of England. ByJ. R. Seeley. 

8 Maanillafis Colonial Library 

ii6. A Colonial Reformer. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

115. Kirsteen. By Mrs. Olithant. 

114. The Squatter's Dream. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

113. More Bywords. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 

112. Wheat and Tares. By Sir Henry Conningham. 

Ill, A Cigarette-Maker's Romance. ByF. Marion Crawford. 

109. The Tragic Muse. By Henry James. 

108. The Ring of Amasis. By Lord Lytton. 

107. The Miner's Right. By Rolf Boldrewood, 

106, The Heriots. By Sir Henry Cunningham. 

105. A Lover of the Beautiful. By the Marchioness of Carmarthen. 

loi. English Traits. By Ralph Waldo Emerson. 

99. Sant' Ilario, By F. Marion Crawford. 

98. Marooned. By W. Clark Russell. 

97. A Reputed Changeling. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 

96. The Intellectual Life. By Philip Gilbert Hamerton. 

95. The Gospel of the Resurrection. By Bishop Westcott. 

94. Robbery under Arms. By Rolf Boldrewood. 

93. An Author's Love. 

92. French and English : A Comparison. By P. G. Hamerton. 

90. Neighbours on the Green. By Mrs. Oliphant. 

89. Greifenstetn. By F. Marion Crawford. 

85. Kophetua the Thirteenth. By Julian Corbett. 

84. Miss Bretherton. By Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

83. Beechcroft at Rockstone. By Charlotte M. Yonge. 

82. The Countess Eve. By J. H. Shorthouse. 

80. The Mediation of Ralph Hardeiot. By Wm. Minto. 

79. Cressy. By Bret Harte. 

76. With the Immortals. By F. Marion Crawford. 

74. Wessex Tales. By Thomas Hardy. 

72. The Argonauts of North Liberty. By Bret Harte. 

71. Joyce. By Mrs. Oliphant. 

70. Chris. By W. E. Norris. 

69. A Teacher of the Violin, and other Tales. ByJ. H. Shorthouse. 

65. Paul Patoff. By F. Marion Crawford. 

64. Marzio's Crucifis. By F. Marion Crawford. 

63. The Second Son. By Mrs. Oliphant. 

59. Zoroaster. By F. Marion Crawford. 

55. The Crusade of " The Excelsior." By Bret Harte. 

49. The Woodlanders. By Thomas Hardy. 

46. Saracinesca. By F. Marion Crawford. 

44. Critical Miscellanies. By John Morley. 

41. Tom Brown's School Days. By an Old Boy. 

40. Essays in Criticism. By Matthew Arnold. 

36. Sir Percival. By J. H. Shorthouse. 

35. A Modem Telemachus. By Chakloi'te M. Yonge. 

32. The Mayor of Casterbridge. By Thomas Hardy. 

26. Living or Dead. By IT unii Conway, Author of "Called Back," etc. 
8. A Tale of a Lonely Parish. By F. Marion Crawford. 
7. A Roman Singer. By F. Marion Crawford. 
6. Dr. Claudius : A True Story. By F. Marion Crawford. 
5. Mr. Isaacs : A Tale of Modern India. By F. Marion Crawford. 
4. A Family Affair. By Hugh Conway, Author of "Called Back." 

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